I Have a Team Member Who...

May 10, 2023

Once a month I will share a situation that leaders have sent to me asking for guidance.  We kick off this series with a response Chandler Creel shared after reading a LinkedIn post I made a few months ago.  His response gets at the heart of leading in a Growth Culture.

“For the past two years, I've worked in the OpEx/BPM space for my company. My primary role is working with a small team of experts from our company's various business units to capture, map, improve, and roll out the new, standard processes to the rest of the company. One aspect of this is training them in our new BPM software. Team members go through an online introductory training course on the software and then I spend a few hours every week for a few months showing them how to capture their own business process. Once their process is mapped and meets the governance standards, the processes are published for the entire company. I officially hand over the reins for them to own and maintain their department's processes.

After my third or fourth "completed" project, I started noticing a pattern. Individuals would contact me with a question about the software or standards. The answers were covered in the training course and during our working sessions. My response was to answer the question quickly and efficiently and get back to my current project. The frequency of their questions became frustrating. Why were they asking questions about things they learned in the training and working sessions?

Finally, after seeing a LinkedIn blogpost from John, I realized that I wasn't teaching... I was telling. I was providing an instant solution that was actually preventing them from fully comprehending the problem and arriving at the solution themselves. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Galileo - "You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself." I found myself guilty of not following these words.

Now when someone asks me a question about the software or a process my first response is, "What do you think the answer is?" I guide with questions, helping them explore the possibilities, and celebrating with them when they find the solution themselves. Does this method of teaching take longer and require more patience on my part? In the moment, certainly, but in the long run it saves time. Because when they discovered the answer themselves, it's much more likely to stick. Plus, because they have a deeper understanding of the program and the methodology of process management, they can become a resource to help others.”

Chandler is a quick learner. Efficiency is not always the best course of action - especially if you want people to grow in their role and help you drive performance. Use Chandler's insight to find the best path for creating the workforce you need with the people you have. In the short term, asking might take a little longer, but in the long run it saves times and creates an entire team of problem solvers, adapters, and innovators.

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