First, realize this: people don’t really want advice. There is a false perception that if you don’t already know the answer, it’s not important!
Many people – bosses and leaders, men and women -love to give advice. They love to fix things. Too often they do this without investigating the core issue. If the advice offered is based upon a misperception, the resolution or good feeling doesn’t last very long! When your employees disguise their requests as asking for advice, it’s simply a device to get themselves or their team off the hook. If you do not recognize these requests as ploys, it will hurt the same people in the near future when yet another similar – but bigger – issue arises.
What Worked/Didn’t? Train yourself – and your employees – to look objectively at any issue. Describe what worked or benefitted the customer or project. It’s a great place to start. Follow up with objectivity looking at the specifics of what didn’t work. From this vantage point it’s easier to ascertain learning opportunities and/or changes required to move forward and resolve issues.
Ain’t It Awful Trap. It’s a vicious cycle we fall into too many times. No one wants advice when operating in this modality. Most human beings love others’ drama since it takes their minds off their own job concerns. While it may the PC thing to do (e.g., blame game and finger-pointing), it rarely fosters opportunities to grow the project, resolve the client issue effectively, or help someone learn for future challenges. Remember, as their boss or coach, you are either part of the solution or part of the problem.
Listen Empathetically. Often it’s hard to listen to people’s upsets when logically they don’t make any sense. Remember, they are reliving past upsets that have not yet been resolved. When an employee, co-worker or customer needs to talk, listen without providing advice. Most times they simply need to vent. Without the venting process any offered resolution will be unheard. Limit the venting process. Ask permission to provide advice. Limit the ideas you provide to two.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2011