Lessons From Bringing out the Best in Others

I asked a group of managers and supervisors what they are learning about bringing out the best in others. One said,

Experienced people seek help sooner and more frequently than inexperienced.”

the need to appear competent prolongs incompetence

4 reasons new or inexperienced employees don’t seek help:

  1. Experienced team members know where to go for help.
  2. New employees feel a need to appear competent. They don’t want to look dumb.
  3. Experienced employees feel secure in their position.
  4. New employees over-estimate their performance.

The need to appear competent prolongs incompetence.

5 ways to bring out the best in new employees:

  1. Set up frequent – brief – check-ins during the first few months of employment. Expect them to set the agenda for check-in meetings at least half the time. 
  2. Ask:
    • What’s working?
    • Where could we be better?
    • Where are you most satisfied with your performance? How might you do more of that?
    • Where are you least satisfied with your performance? (Use language like “least satisfied,” not “unsatisfied”.) How might you try something new?
    • Be open with strengths on your team. “Mary is really great at organization. She might have some ideas.”
  3. Ask, “What have you tried?” when they bring up problems, challenges, or issues. Communicate the expectation that bringing your own solutions precedes seeking help.
  4. Affirm help-seeking. People who seek help go further than those who don’t (as long as they’re committed to deliver results on their own.)
  5. Implement the practice of feedforward developed by Marshall Goldsmith. Create options. Avoid advice.

Bonus material: “The Unexpected Secret to Becoming a Superstar.” (An article about the importance, power, and methods of receiving help.)

Why don’t new or inexperienced employees seek help?

How might managers bring out the best in new employees?

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