Many of us were brought up on a system of telling. We were told what to do, and most often, we did what we were told.
“Why?” “Because I said so.”
We listened to what others told us to do until we were old enough or in a position of enough authority and then we started telling others what to do. The workplace has been no exception.
But just as more dictatorial parenting styles are no longer recognised as being optimal for the growth and development of young people, so too are we taking a dimmer view of dictatorial leadership and management styles at work. The reasons for this change of approach are numerous, and they relate largely to the changing nature of the world around us. Our working environment is characterised by more change and uncertainty, and following rules is no longer a surefire way to deal with this flux. More than ever we need employees to question, connect the dots, take initiative and help improve processes, products and services. In fact, creativity and innovation experts now recognize and place value on the input of the ‘Rookie Thinker’, the person who is new to role or has little knowledge of a subject but is encouraged to challenge established or conventional wisdom.
Questions are an essential part of learning as well as exploring the unknown, and telling styles tend to shut down conversation and questioning. In fact, dictatorial styles can invoke the opposite of what we need for the future by teaching employees not to look for new options but instead to wait for the ‘right’ answer, often leaving them feeling disempowered. Having little room to move is a real engagement killer. And when employees are disengaged, at best you lose out on voluntary effort where employees go the extra mile. At worst, employees may feel threatened and too afraid to speak up on issues that really matter. Employers can tackle engagement levels by paying attention to empowering employees to make decisions and to shape their jobs, as well as giving employees a voice, advises the CIPD.
One simple model that we use with a lot of success in our work at Waq’e Consultants is the G.R.O.W. model and it provides a quick and easy method for unlocking potential and action. Developed by Sir John Whitmore in the late 80’s, it has been used extensively in corporate coaching for goal setting and problem solving over the past 30 years, and it is still one of the tools that Google uses to teach managers about coaching conversations. There are 4 steps to the process, with each step focused on answering a key question:
- Goal: What do you want to achieve?
- Reality: Where are you now?
- Options: What could you do?
- Will: What will you do?
The beauty of this method is that it fits with the demands of an increasingly busy workplace and it can be delivered on the spot in just one or two meetings. Each step is broken down into a series of smaller questions, and the design of the process is such that it results in practical actions, generated by the coachee. Leaders and managers can learn to use this tool to hold coaching conversations with their employees in response to current and future challenges and opportunities. It is also useful for peer-to-peer coaching. To explore the model in more depth, take a look at this guide.
The GROW model, despite having been around for a long time, is surprisingly relevant for our workplaces today. The next time you are tempted to “tell”, take a step back and ask yourself whether a GROW approach might unlock more value for employee and employer alike.
Do you need hands-on support with developing your leaders? We can assist. At Waq’e Consultants we offer consultancy support, leadership mentoring and sales training within the recruitment agency sector. With over 33 years in the industry, we’re confident about exceeding your expectations.