Motivate without Micromanaging

Motivate without Micromanaging

Over-management can manifest as micromanagement. When you tell employees what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and why your way is better, you undermine their ability to think for themselves. Instead of enjoying some control over the way they work, they begin to feel powerless and controlled. They many even start to doubt their competency. Their relationship with you deteriorates, as it is now based on compliance and conformity.

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5 Steps to Build Peak Performance – Step 4. Grapple and Grow

  • Less than 650 words
  • Average Reading Time: Less than 3 minutes

In previous blogs, I have summarized the first three steps of the Cycle of Excellence referenced in the book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011).

Dr. Hallowell, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience to present the Cycle of Excellence process for getting the best from your people and providing optimal working conditions for peak performance.

To recap, the following are the 5 Steps to Build Peak Performance.

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.   
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

Today’s blog continues with the fourth step.

Step 4: Grapple and Grow

growFollowing up on Step 3. Play, people will eagerly stretch beyond their usual limits when there is a supportive environment to engage imaginatively with tasks they like and at which they excel.

If tasks are too easy or too routine, people fall into boredom and apathy. If there is no encouragement, opportunity, or a safe environment for creative and critical thinking, people will follow rules and regulations with blind compliance or perhaps worse, they become lone rangers or saboteurs wreaking havoc for everyone.  With the latter, no one makes progress, learns anything new, or contributes with peak performance.

Your job, as a leader or manager, is to be a catalyst.  When people get stuck, ask powerful questions to engage their creative and critical-thinking. Offer a few suggestions and then let them work out solutions.

The Right Environment for Grapple-and-Grow

Provide a physical environment that inspires and induces a different way of thinking and a different approach to finding solutions.  One of my clients set up different “creative-thinking” zones throughout the workplace where employees can switch their brains from routine operational work to more strategic and creative work.  The zones are designed for grapple-and-grow experiences that are fun.  Two zones incorporate physical play, a basketball hoop and a foosball table.  Other zones offer solitary or team challenges along with mental and physical challenges.

growing

Another client has yearned for a place where she could focus solely on her strategic-thinking away from the distractions of routine deskwork and other interruptions. Getting past the initial inertia of needing to make the space perfect-before-use was a “grapple and grow” exercise in itself providing valuable insights in how she approaches challenges.  She now sees the space as sacred, evolving, and a place to develop mastery.

The Grapple-and-Grow concept is as important, if not more important, in work that is routine and structured such as administrative, accounting, and front-line service.  Encouraging a different way of thinking and a different approach to finding solutions adds energy to work that can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.  It’s in the process of finding a different way that we often find the better way.  Finding the better way develops mastery.

Pressure Can Make or Break

Adding pressure to complete tasks quickly is counter to grapple-and-grow and leads to shortcuts and stress that usurp creative and critical-thinking. On the other hand, the right amount of pressure and the right amount of creativity enables employees to grapple, grow, and achieve mastery over their work.

 

What do you think about this?

  • Are there job functions that need review to avoid boredom and apathy?
  • Are you presenting meaningful challenges and allowing people to grapple and grow?
  • Are you applying the right amount of pressure to create some sparkling gems in your organization?

 

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes Stay positive

5 Steps to Build Peak Performance – Step 3. Play

  • Less than 760 words
  • Average Reading Time: Less than 3 minutes

Are You Having Fun at Work?

In Dr. Hallowell’s book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011), his third step in the Cycle of Excellence refers to play in providing optimal working conditions for peak performance.

To recap, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research and his own experience to present the Cycle of Excellence process for getting the best from your people:

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.   
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

One of the most important things leaders and managers can do for people is to help them expand and use their imagination.

Standards and Compliance Need a Little Creative License

My work coaching executive teams often involves rules, regulations, standards and compliance. When I begin working with my client, I often see one of two scenarios.

  1. An overemphasis on rules and regulations that blocks creative thinking and demoralizes employees who really want to perform beyond mediocrity. Bright performers are stifled when they hear “This is the way we do it around here.”  The message is “Don’t ask questions. Do it our way, or else.”  A throwback to “command and control”.
  2. Rules and regulations that are impossible to implement consistently because of a poor fit and/or the lack of commitment and energy to enforce.  The resulting message is that rules, regulations, and standards don’t really matter – it’s all lip service.  Leaders and managers lose face as employees ignore the rules and regulations.  One of the best examples I come across is the “Dress Code”.

Some would think there is no place for creative license in developing rules and regulations.  However, when implementing initiatives based on any standard, I coach my clients in interpreting the standard so that it fits and complements their business.  Forcing the business into the standard for the sake of compliance is like a forcing your foot into an ill-fitted shoe. There’s going to be pain! I stress that their work is to create policies, procedures, rules, and regulations that serve the business, the workplace environment, and the community that the business serves.

Rules and regulations that serve only to meet compliance squeeze the spark out of people, leaving them dull and disengaged.  A common symptom is the growing attitude of “I have to”.  Wouldn’t we all perform better if rules and regulations provided structure while cultivating the attitude of “I want to”?

Bear with me! You may be thinking there’s not much time or energy for socializing and having fun at work.  There is resounding evidence that much more can be accomplished with a sense of play.

In fact, the success of your business and your employees depends on it. Here's why.

Step 3: Play

Play isn’t limited to break time. Play is any activity that involves tgroup of business people playing and being creative in the officehe imagination, lights up our brains, and produces creative thoughts and ideas.  Peak performance takes positive physical, mental, and emotional energy.  Play provides all of this by boosting morale, reducing fatigue, and bringing joy to our workdays.

Bringing play into daily workplace activities is not as difficult as some may think. Leaders and managers could encourage imaginative play more frequently with these steps:

  • Ask open-ended questions.

o   Expand thinking beyond “yes” and “no”.

  • Encourage everyone to produce three new ideas each month.

o   New ways of working.

o   New ways of making customers happy, etc.

  • Allow for irreverence or goofiness (without disrespect), and model this behaviour.

o   A breakout of laughter, song, or even dance will boost any business environment.

  • Brainstorm.

o   How can we do this better?

o   What’s missing?

  • Reward new ideas and innovations.

o   Acknowledgement with a sincere “thank you” is powerful whether in private or in public.  Small rewards often are more effective than a big production once or twice a year.  Don’t cancel your big celebrations; just add smaller and more frequent celebrations.  Make them sincere and meaningful.

  • Encourage people to question everything.

o   Accept the questions and open up for discussion.  Expand critical-thinking.  Make it safe for everyone to learn from sharing and questioning.

What do you think about this?

  1. Do you pay attention to playfulness and opportunities to be creative and imaginative?
  2. Do you have fun at work?

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes Audiobook

Fun is Good: How to Create Joy & Passion in Your Workplace & Career, Mike Veeck & Pete Williams (Rodale Books, 2005)

Photo © iStock.com / ParkerDeen

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