One of the biggest mistakes I see made in businesses occurs when we lean away from the very things that give other people around us confidence. And it’s usually always driven by a need to have all the answers.
Here’s a little out take from a recent coaching session in which I was working with the owner and his two sons who both worked in the business. A few months earlier we had noticed that the younger son had some technical skills that would be very useful in the office. So we moved him out of the field and into a position where he could play to his gifts and add the most value to the business.
It had been a smooth transition thus far, and today as he joined our meeting he wrestled with a phone problem he hadn’t yet solved. The surprising reality was that as we sat there the company’s phones were not working! He had managed to put a band aid on them for the short term, but a complete solution had not yet been reached. His Father winced and growled, noticeably irritated by the way his son was handling things, emotions that can often be misinterpreted by the members of a family business.
Many technically proficient people place a high value on safety which shows up in perfectionist behavior. We soon determined that the son was innocently withholding important information on the status of this project because he had not yet figured out the root problem. Instead of demonstrating trust by articulating as best he could where things stood, so his father could make decisions on his end, and assist in the problem solving – he withdrew, angered by the mere thought of it!
Once the owner saw that the very thing that had made his youngest good at what he was doing had also got in the way of giving him and the rest of the office the confidence they needed to know the solution was imminent, his perspective shifted and his anger turned to support.
Once the son saw how his inward communication style, not the problem with the phones, was creating the upset, his angst disappeared and he quickly went on to solve the problem, with a great new lesson under his belt.
If you’ve seen this mistake happening where you work, I’d love to know…
Clint Best is a business coach and the founder of Kaizen Business Coaching in Kelowna, BC. Clint has been guiding forward thinking business owners through change and growth since 2002.