Friday, November 22, 2019

Two pieces of unsolicited advice

by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharney

I give these two pieces of advice often and have come up repeatedly in recent conversations and they apply both personally and professionally: (1) don't make other people's decisions for them and (2) have the conversation with the other person rather than about the other person.

Don't make other people's decisions for them

The only way people get better at making decisions is by having to make them. Decision-making is a key learning activity, and you do your team members a disservice if as a manager you take that decision making away from them. Similarly, if you don't ask your management team to make tough decisions (say by preemptively deciding that they are likely to say 'no' so why bother asking) you deny them the opportunity to experience making them.

Have the conversation with the other person rather than about the other person

Often we spend time trying to understand where someone is coming from by speaking to people we trust about them, validating our thoughts, and reflecting on how to address the situation (conflict? issue?) at hand. While I would never advocate against confiding in and seeking the counsel of those you trust, I would argue that more often then not we fail to close the loop with the actual person about the issue at hand. This is inherently problematic as far more can be achieved by speaking directly with the person than by speaking about them. This requires a certain amount of courage but establishing more courageous and direct interpersonal relationships will always solve more issues than meandering through or around the issues.

Putting the advice together

Weighing trade offs, making compromises, and being able to both give and take 'no' for an answer are important skill sets that will serve anyone well in their person or professional lives. This of course means that we also need to get better and giving and receiving direct feedback, understanding our biases, and being comfortable disagreeing openly with others when its appropriate to do so.

In short, engaging in difficult and direct conversations and their resulting decisions -- while at some times can be painful -- makes everyone better.

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