What is your reaction when I constantly tell you what to do, how to do it and by when? My own reaction is to shrink back a bit. Such ‘telling’ is over the top micro managing. It can feel like I am not trusted to have a brain or initiative to use it. Some will push back and say that people like to know exactly what to do so that they are more likely to be successful. Frankly, I don’t want to hire people who only take that stance. Sometimes, if the building is on fire, yes, tell me exactly where the door is and drag me through it if need be.

Human beings, for the most part, like to do well while adding their own flair or style to gaining the result. So as the Executive directing the actions in your organization, what needs to be in place before you can let people have more rein? I say it is trust but also a bit of faith in human kind. We are designed to be evolving creatures. If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs or Tony Robbin’s list of the Six Basic Human Needs, we find that up there at the top are these needs to grow, to contribute and to have an effect on the outcome of our lives. A constant menu of ‘telling’ leaves no room for the fulfillment of the individual.

There are many studies about compensation and most agree that money is not the biggest reward. Invitation to contribute to the result, to make a personal difference, that is the sweet spot.

Instead of ‘telling’, once the result being sought is explained and well understood, try asking the following questions.

  • if you could do this in any way that you chose to, what would you consider among your options?
  • What kind of help would you seek, where and from whom?
  • In order to meet the deadline and budget requirements, what would you most pay attention to?
  • How will I know how you are doing along the way and at completion?
  • What do you most need from me?
  • How will you celebrate completing this project?
  • … and more, but not too many

You get the idea. Notice that the questions are not really rocket science but are indeed an ‘asking’ form of what you might ‘tell’. What is your best guess of the reaction to these questions? No, these exact questions are not magic, they are just an example. Like I said, turn what you want to tell into a set of asking questions. Start with smaller things and build up as the person grows into the wider responsibilities. Some will resist, at first, after all, if you have been a ‘telling’ type this may feel out of character coming from you. Go easy and watch your people bloom and your organization bloom.

‘Ask’ what you wanted to ‘tell’.