Episode from the podcastThe Boss Hat with Barbara Nixon

Episode 7 - The Boss Hat

Released Sunday, 17th January 2016
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Hi everyone – thanks for listening today. Hope you’re having a great day. We’re now into episode 7 of our launch so I hope you’re enjoying this as much as I am.

Today we’re going to talk about something which I see happening a lot. It can be a massive time suck, and it’s actually not great for you, your team or your business. What I’m talking about is you being the go to person.

Let me explain what I mean by go to person. If your team have got into the habit of coming to you to ask questions; want your help making decisions; or even to make the decisions for them; or for advice etc, and your working day is taken up with interruption after interruption with other people asking you what they should do then you’ve inadvertently become the go to person.

Now, you might be listening to this and thinking  - well that’s not that bad. After all I know the business better than they do, and I like to help or it’s just quicker and easier for me to tell them the answer and what to do rather than them struggling and agonising over it – then you need to stick with me for the rest of this podcast – cos this one is for you. Or if you’re sitting there thinking…yes that’s me and I hate it. How do I stop it from happening? – then you’re also in the right place.

You see – being the go to person might feel like a good thing – after all you’re in demand and yes you’re right whilst you know the answer it might be quicker to just tell them and make the decision for them – in the short term – in the long term it really isn’t quicker as you’ll always be doing this. You’ll always be plagued with interruptions and you’ll always be rushed and short of time. You might also always be interrupted in your time off, or on the evenings, the weekends or holidays or times you’re spending with your family. Which is no good thing at all. By being the go to person you’re inadvertently training your team that this is OK –and so they’ll keep doing it.

Let me give you an example that’s closer to my home. As you know I’ve got 4 kids and there came a time in each of their lives when they had to learn to tie their own shoe laces. Now, it would be so much quicker and easier to tie their laces for them as they were growing up, because I need to get out of the door, or we’d be rushing for school, and for them to do it, it just takes an age doesn’t it? Especially when they’re learning. – but if I quickly did their laces for them, I’d still be doing that now – and seriously I’ve got other things that I need to be doing and they need to be independent as I’m not always going to be there to tie their shoe laces for them.

You being the go to person is exactly the same  - by taking on that role, you’re stopping yourself doing other things that you really need to be doing – and stopping them from growing, developing and being more self sufficient at work.

Remember, outside of work your team are all adults. They all manage their own lives. They might have bank accounts and homes and families and they don’t call you every two minutes to make a decision. Instead they just get on with it – and that’s the aim for them at work too.

Point to note here is that you might be thinking  - I’m the manager. It’s my job. Isn’t it? Or have you made it your job? Is it better for your team to be able to get on with you supporting them rather than you being the go to person all the time – and what would happen if you got knocked over by the proverbial bus and were out of action for a while- what would they do then? Remember the great bosses have everything running perfectly when they’re not even there.

So, how do you stop being the go to person and without just pulling the rug out from your teams feet and just stopping – here are 3 ways that you can gradually help your team be more self sufficient.

  1. Keep a record of what your team are asking you for

This is such an important first step so that you can see if there are any re-curing issues and common problems. If this is the case, it may be that you can start by gathering together all the answers and communicating them to the team so they’re all clued up going forward. You might even want to put a Frequently Asked Question list somewhere that everyone has got access to.

  1. Stop yourself jumping in

Now, I know you might think that this sounds super easy, but it’s probably not as easy as you think. Especially if you’re busy and you just need something sorting so you can move on  - you’ll be really tempted to just jump in and move on. This is especially the case if you’ve been doing this for a while as you’ll have created a habit – and this habit needs to be changed for you as well as them.

So, instead of jumping straight in ask the person what they think they need to do. You might even ask them to come back in a few minutes with some solutions. Try not to give them the right answer but coach them to find the solution themselves.

This isn’t going to be a quick fix- so you’ll need to keep at it so you can start seeing that change in behaviour.

  1. Recognise the right behaviour

As I said changing behaviour is going to take effort, and there’ll be times when you will feel frustrated and just want to go back to how it was – it was just easier than. But stick with it. Another case for my mantra short term pain, long term gain.

Even so, you’ll start seeing moments when your team are being self sufficient and much more confident in their abilities. When this happens, recognise it and praise them. Pretty soon, everyone will understand that this is what you expect going forward.

So there you have it- my 3 tips for not being the go to person at work and helping your team be more self sufficient. Just to recap we’ve got

  1. Keep a record of what they’re asking

  2. Stop jumping in

  3. Recognise the right behaviour

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – so please come on over to barbaranixon.co.uk and leave a comment – and if you know of someone who would benefit from this podcast please point them in the right direction.

See you next time