You won’t get help from me!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

(Photo: Sarah’s Blog)

One of your employees comes to you with an urgent problem and you know exactly what to do. It would take you only moments to make everything right in his world again, but should you? By giving him the answer are you really helping him or are you inhibiting his learning process?

People tend to comprehend and understand resolutions to situations and problems when they are forced to work through the details and potential solutions, their learning capacity is greater when they use critical thinking skills to manage their way through a problem.
“Always make new mistakes.” – Esther Dyson
 
Let Them Make Mistakes
Let’s face it; no one likes to make mistakes. A mistake can be an embarrassing blow to an ego, but what would a person learn if they were always just handed the answer? Probably not a lot. Mistakes allow a person to grow and be enlightened to a situation. Mistakes help people to move forward in life by embracing the mistake and learning a valuable lesson. Think back to one of your mistakes in life. If someone had just handed you the answer would you have learned as much from the situation?
“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” –Socrates
 
What We Can Learn from Socrates?
Socrates gained fame for frequently engaging others in conversations attempting to define broad ideas. During his conversations, Socrates placed himself in the position of student, forcing his respondents to act in the role of teacher.  By taking the subordinate role you can guide others toward a better understanding of established topic. Let them teach you about the situation they are having difficulty with; by teaching you, they can in-turn increase their understanding and bring about a resolution.
 
Interrogation
No need for the handcuffs or interrogation room, but much can be learned through a line of pointed questions. Start from the beginning and walk them through the problem they are struggling with step-by-step. Only ask questions and don’t contribute to the resolution. As your employee answers each question they will revisit the steps which brought them to the situation they currently face. As you facilitate this process continue to ask questions which will lead them to that “ah-ha” moment. In the end they will have resolved the situation on their own by working through each step.
 
So What? And then what?
If you could only ask the employee these two seemingly confrontational questions; could you help them resolve their problem? The answer might surprise you. The point of this line of questioning is to get to the source by digging in deeper to the source of the problem thereby leading to the solution. In the end as you continue to ask, “So what?” or “And then what?” they will have determined the source of the problem they are facing and how they can benefit from it or make a change for the better.

Some of my career’s most valuable lessons have been learned by working through things on my own and being allowed to make mistakes. Inspire your team to work through situations permitting them to succeed on their own. Once they have worked through the situation, allow them help others get through similar situations, which in the end will also help them to understand the means to a positive learning process.
 
What other ways can you inspire your team to learn?

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