For years I was the “Mr. Idea Man” in our company. But that’s my job…isn’t it? As the leader of the company, I thought it was my job to generate the ideas and map-out how to implement them. Eventually, I learned that there was a better way to lead my team – a way to increase innovation and manage change at the same time.
My old management style went something like this: When I got an idea for our business, I would come up with all of the questions to ask on my own, and do all of the research to determine all the answers.
Then I would go to our management team to present my idea and explain how it would work. The team always accepted the ideas, but… they were always “Bobby’s ideas”.
For days, weeks, and even months after I presented an idea, I found myself spending a lot of time and energy just to persuade my team that it was a good idea.
And when it came time to implement a “Bobby idea”, the process was very slow, and it always took a lot of pushing and prodding to make it happen. It was draining and discouraging.
Observation: The more competent a manager is in the technical aspect of their work, the stronger the tendency is for the manager to make decisions and set goals alone, and simply tell their employees what to do.
Are you a Lone Ranger when it comes to making decisions, and even setting goals in your organization like I was?
In most organizations, goals often are imposed from above at the top of the organization.
With this top-down approach, leaders usually find their goal-oriented system isn’t working right and the following symptoms appear:
- People consider goal-setting and planning just as a periodic exercise rather than a way of life.
- They consider the whole approach somewhat of a nuisance because of the over emphasis on elaborate details and page after page of forms.
- The objectives/goals are regarded as arbitrarily imposed.
- The planning cycle is completed usually several weeks late. Then employees wipe their brows and say, “Whew! Now that we’ve finished that exercise, let’s get back to getting our work done.”
But think about it, even the Lone Ranger wasn’t really a loner. Everywhere he went he rode with Tonto!
I also realized that the old saying is true…
“Individuals play the game, but teams win championships.”
Every leader can improve their team’s performance by asking three key questions when setting goals.
At the very beginning of the goal-setting process and before defining any team or company goals, the empowering leader seeks input from their employees. Such a leader asks:
- Who can help me set a better goal?
- Who will have to carry it out?
- Who will be impacted by it?
When you, as the leader, use these three questions, your people have a better understanding of and commitment to the goals that you collaboratively set.
And they take pride in the achievement of the goals when they are involved in the development/creation and implementation planning stages.
When employees provide the necessary input, how can they complain about implementing their own plans?
And as the leader, you can avoid having those who:
- Lack a feeling of ownership or commitment
- Drag their heels in implementation, and
- Resort to sabotaging the plans.
When you lay down your Lone Ranger mask and give your people a chance to participate in the decision-making and goal–setting process, they have a real opportunity to gain experience and grow professionally.
Are you a Lone Ranger when setting goals? Would you like to have a more team approach to your goal-setting process? Please share your thoughts <here> and share this blog post with a friend and co-worker.