Give back, get more.

Last week I was speaking with my friend, Ben*.  He’s a business owner who opened his doors a few weeks ago.  His business is built on high touch, face-to-face sales.  One of his employees asked him if she could start using the Internet and phones to sell.  This would be a BIG change to his business model.   He had many concerns.  Legitimate concerns about things like costs, closing ratios, and the like.  He was trying to come up with all of the answers himself.

This happens a lot.  A manager or business owner (I’ll use the term manager here on out) has a team member approach them with an idea.  The team member lays it at the feet of the manager.  Then the manager has to figure out what the hell to do with this bundle laying at their feet.  They have 3 basic choices:

A- Take it – Figure out how to make it work, anticipate problems and then tell the individual contributor/team how to implement it (assuming you figured out how to make it work)

B- Ignore it – Step over that additional work and do nothing about it – there’s already too much to do, right?

C- Give back – Ask the person who’s idea it is to figure out how to make it work.

Option A puts more work on the manager’s plate and removes responsibility from the employee.  Option B rejects the employee and reduces trust.  Option C gives the employee the opportunity to create big win for them, the manager and the team.  Option C is a win-win.

When managers ‘give back’ it builds the contributor and the organization.  It takes the burden off the manager to have all the answers.  The contributor see the manager has confidence in them.  It deepens emotional investment.  It encourages positive risk taking.  It lets team members be responsible to create results.

For managers, we might find our people deliver more when we give back.  For contributors, we might find that managers give more when we take responsibility to deliver results.

Do you want to get more from your team?   Give back.  You might be surprised by what you get in return.


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