When To Shut Up

It’s time to end the week on a food-related note as is our custom here. I was out last evening with some former work colleagues, most of whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while. It was fantastic to see them and to catch up. Most were pleasantly surprised at the physical changes I’ve been making and a few pulled me aside to know how they could do the same. I explained it to them as I did to you all in this space.
Someone ordered some snacks for the group to enjoy as we conversed and imbibed. It was the usual bar food fairly even divided between the pretty healthy yet tasty (veggie plates, humus) and utter crap but so delicious (fried mozzarella).  What was interesting to me was who chose to eat (and drink) what – some of the same people who expressed a desire to get healthier were eating the junk and drinking fruity, high sugar drinks.  And that’s where the business lesson came in.

“Oh no”, you’re thinking.  “He reverted to form and lectured.”  Nope.  While I damn near bit through my tongue, I kept quiet.  That’s part of being a friend but it’s also a part of managing.  You need to respect the smarts your people have until they demonstrate otherwise by failing (and it’s your job to be the net so they don’t do major damage).  I know they had heard what I had to say on how simple food choices can have a huge impact on weight.  The fact that they were choosing to wait to act on the conversation isn’t about me and I know that they’re smart enough to act when the time feels right to them.

The temptation as a manager is to hover and micromanage.  All this does is make your people less capable and you less effective.  After all, how can you do your job when you’re spending time watching your staff do theirs?  You need to shut up – let people make mistakes so they learn.  Accept that the way others might do things might not be exactly how you might do it but can be just as effective.  Who knows – maybe even more effective!

You needn’t be quiet here – let’s have your thoughts.

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

2 responses to “When To Shut Up

  1. Radar

    Love the fried mozzarella!!

  2. Could not agree more. Whenever I’m mentoring others, I emphasize that we learn as much (or more) from our mistakes than anything else. I just don’t believe that we learn “how to do” by being told. I believe that we learn by doing, and being supported and guided as we go along. Just my two cents. I’ve been fortunate to have (rarely) been micromanaged by others in my career, and it’s the last thing I’d do to others. Great post, Keith.

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