You are trying to get your work done, when one of your employees gives you a call. You find yourself pulled in to their issue. This is what you are supposed to do. You are there for them. You finally get their issue resolved, and back to your project when another employee stops in to discuss an issue that they are having. This one ends up taking the rest of your day and you have to stay late because you are responsible for getting your work done on time as well. Does this sound like a normal day for you?
I have come across many different managers, supervisors and leaders who are fighting this battle every single day. To help you out I am going to give you a tool, that if used properly can save you an incredible amount of time.
This tool is called the “4 Question Method.” Before any of your employees or co-workers come to you to help them solve a problem, ask them to have answered four questions before they get to you. Here are the four questions:
1. What is the problem?
2. What are the causes of the problem?
3. What are the possible solutions?
4. What is the best possible solution?
At first glance this might seem obvious. We have found that it is an incredibly powerful tool. My guess would be that if you are like the manager that I described before, you most likely help your employees answer all of these questions when you are working with them. My question for you is, most of the time, aren’t they able to answer them themselves? By having your employees answer these questions themselves you are removing yourself from the equation.
A very important thing to remember is how you position this with the people you work with. If you just tell people to answer these questions it can feel like you are trying to get rid of people coming to you (even if you are). Position it as a way for your people to grow and show initiative by coming to you with things already clearly in their mind.
This will have two benefits for you. Number one, your people will grow in confidence, increased morale and higher productivity. By having your team members develop their own plan of action, all you need to do is say yes. My highest recommendation is to say yes, no matter what you actually think the outcome will be. If you see an obvious misstep or error in their logic, ask some questions to get them thinking about it. But if you take over and redo their work, you will be training them that they must come to you for everything. Let them figure it out on their own. Let them make mistakes. In less time than you would imagine, you will have confident employees who will come to you less and less and who will have learned how to handle their own fires.
This will give you the second benefit of having more time. You will have more time for the work you yourself are responsible for. You will be able to get it done without having to stay late, or at least as late. You will be able to see more of your family and friends, and maybe have one of those things you have heard about: a life.
Growing your people in this way will give you confident, motivated employees and more time to get your work done so that you can have more time for anything else you want. You could even take it to work on more things at your job. Grow your business faster. What is not to like?
If you are interested in other ways to increase your team’s performance and your own, get in contact with me. You can call me at 515.724.3163 or email me at Ryan dot Lynch at Dale Carnegie dot com.