And for you and I, the leaders and managers of these individuals – this really comes down to training and reiterating that training. You can train your people to be self-reliant, or you can train them to bring every problem to you (which is the easier way to train). If you want to train your people to be self-reliant, do not answer questions for them. Encourage them to find the answers on their own. Let them know you are there for feedback and guidance on their possibilities, but when it comes to their field of practice, you want to empower them to find answers, or at least some possible solutions, on their own.
When they do ask you, the first thing you say back is, “Well, what are your thoughts on this?” 8 out of 10 times, they already have the answer. When they already have the answer, make sure you remind them of that by saying something like, “See, you already knew the answer to that question. Good job! Next time, run with it – I trust you.” That encourages them to move forward, shows your support, and gives them permission to NOT ask you about every part of their job. And unless you’re really into micro-managing, that’s exactly what you want from your team.
As leaders, part of our job is to open up pathways for our employees to do their best work. I firmly believe that one of those pathways is to coach them to become self-reliant managers and leaders. If you do this well, you’ll eventually be in a place where your main job is to lead, mentor, and focus on the very big-picture, strategic items to move your organization forward.
If you’d like to discuss this further, please check out my VIP consulting plan – short-term help that creates a long-term solution. My key employee coaching may also be of interest. As always, please feel free to contact me at any time!