Mentoring or Meddling?

Sense enough to pick good people.

It’s almost possible to read right past that to get to what seems the bigger message. So let’s linger a minute on this first piece of the quote.

“Picking” good people isn’t so simple as it sounds. There’s so much in the way of that, like how often a person hires, for example. Hiring well is a skill and a skill is developed through doing, through practice and usually through or with a disciplined process. But think about it. Don’t you find that hiring is often done infrequently, unexpectedly and hurriedly? Is that a good training ground for the results that are needed?

So we shouldn’t hurry past this first part of this quote, even if that wasn’t “Teddy’s” intended main message. Think for a minute or two on this ‘pick good people’ piece of the quote and ask yourself how your organization ‘picks’. Is there room for improvement?

Ok. On to the next piece – “To do what he wants them to do.”

This speaks to clarity, something that can often be missing when ‘picking’ people.

I’ve seen so many cases where a hire is made by party #1 who has set an image for role and responsibilities for the position in their mind. But the hiree works with and collaborates with others in the organization (party #2 and #3 and….); they have different expectations set in their minds which have never been discussed with the hiring party #1. Right off the bat there are differing expectations of the hiree. Over time, that plays out to negatively affect performance, morale and maybe retention of the hiree. The hiring cycle starts again, vulnerable to a repeat disappointment because the affected parties of this new hire remain out of alignment; they aren’t on the same page.

Think for a minute on this piece. Do you assure that all parties with whom this new hire will work and collaborate have the same understanding of the position’s role and the expectations or is that something you could tighten up on?

We come now to “meddling” …..

It’s difficult to recognize when we’re ‘meddling’ because when we are doing it, we think we are and we intend to be helping. It’s tough especially for founders and owners who established a culture, ‘a way’ of doing things, to recognize that they’ve established procedures and processes that suited them and supports the particular and personal way THEY learn and like to work. When they are ‘coaching’ or ‘showing the ropes’ they aren’t aware that others may learn, act, like to work differently and still achieve the same outcomes via a different approach. That corrective ‘coaching’ is experienced as ‘meddling’ or, more in keeping with today’s terms, as ‘micromanagement’ . No one wants to think of their efforts to help as micromanaging but, like ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder” so is micromanaging. I think we are all guilty of this personally and professionally at times.

“But I just did what I would want someone to do for me”.

Ahh, yes, The Golden Rule. Well, it doesn’t always fit in leadership and in helping because people are different. They learn, communicate, problem solve, decide, process, live and work differently. So to proceed to do things to others as you’d like them done to/for you? Well, nope, others may well experience not as help but as meddling, micromanaging, as control freaky inflexibility. In my professional experience, too few are taught this and it’s too bad; so much ‘unpleasantness’ could be avoided if this was better understood and applied.

People need and want help; don’t misunderstand me. My point is that it’s important to understand about natural differences (they are knowable) ,to avoid the Golden Rule (with exception of treating with respect and such) and coach according to the needs and preferences of others. In doing so, you are more likely to turn unwelcomed meddling into effective mentoring for those well selected (vs ‘picked”) new hires regardless of their level or role.

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