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Calculated Neglect

Posted by: John Butler  :  Category: Leadership, Manager, Morale

Calculated Neglect: The Cure for Your Occupational Hobbies

Believe it or not, bad behavior in the office is often caused by our inability to let go of the work that we find so enjoyable, and often feel no one can do as well.  As a Leader, I try to remind myself of this; so allow me to nudge you as well:  that with such behavior we may be shooting ourselves in the foot!  Failure to allow our employees to take responsibility and learn by trial and error will undoubtedly limit them and, consequently, our organizations.

Now, I know what you may be thinking, “I don’t have the time to let my employee[s] cut their teeth on this one!” Well you may be right on some occasions, but more often than not, we could practice what I call “calculated neglect.”  And in so doing, we find that if we delegate and use a little coaching, we will move our employees and organization forward a bit faster.

Imagine you are the coach of your favorite sports team:  your job is to give your players the training and guidance they need to produce on the court or field.  It’s game time, and the other team is ahead; instead of coaching you run on the field and take over the position of one of your star players.  S/he is now left on the sideline with nothing to do but lick their wounds and watch you.  You could be calling a new play or devising a way to bring the team to success.  But, you can’t.  You can’t because you’re too busy playing the game, not coaching it.

An employee, who is not allowed to take responsibility for his/her work, is sure to become disgruntled.  Disgruntled staff leads to apathy, and apathy is very contagious.  If we are not careful, the behavior we model sets the norm that everyone starts to follow.  In this case, it is a norm that does not encourage risk taking, innovation, or pride in one’s work and accomplishments.

So, where am I going with all of this you ask?  I say we should frequently take stock of our occupational hobbies – the things we love to do, or think we do better than those we have hired. Let’s all work a little harder at becoming more conscious of them… and then – let’s push ourselves to let them go!  You can inquire, coach, empower and guide in helping move the task forward, but your employee has to be allowed to run with the ball.

If the shoe is on the other foot, and you are the one whose job is being undermined:  meet with your Up-line to explain that with their support you can succeed and are not only capable, but want the chance to do your own work.  Make an agreement with him/her that allows you to gently remind them if they overstep their boundaries and start running onto your playing field again.  If they are smart, they will thank you for this nudge!

John T. Butler, President & CEO

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