February 2, 2023

How to teach employees to be independent. Pt 2

Part 1 here

The independence of the performer is measured by the time that the manager spends managing them

Independence is measured by the amount of time a manager needs to spend to get results from the performer. The less time a manager spends on a person and the more complex tasks this person can solve, the higher the degree of his or her independence, and hence their value for the company.

For example, a company has two people assigned to find new customers. One accepted the task and returned with five clients. The second accepted the assignment but did not start doing it until the manager reminded about it. Then he or she started wasting time on social media during working hours, although the company’s rules prohibit this. The manager had to intervene again. Then he or she brought five clients, but it turned out that they did not need the services of the company. The manager intervened again, pointed out the mistake, corrected it, and after a while, the person completed the task.

The results in this example are the same, but the manager spent an hour on the first person and eight on the second. It means that the first performer is more independent.

To give a person a task and get a result without unnecessary management, you need to teach them to be independent.

Here is more about the delegation algorithm:

Independence needs to be taught

Independence is a quality that needs to be nurtured. A person cannot reach a high level of independence if he or she does not have experience working with tasks in the proximal development area. For example, they spend all their time doing only what they already know how to do. There is no experience in working with complex tasks, for example, in an area of high uncertainty.

You cannot teach a person to be independent if you:

  • Do not give them challenging tasks;
  • Do not provide the right to make mistakes;
  • Do not let them make their own decisions;
  • Do not give feedback.

It turns out that he or she needs to be given complex but achievable tasks, the right to make mistakes, and high-quality feedback to grow as an independent employee.

(Difficult but achievable tasks + the right to make mistakes + high-quality feedback) * repeat until ready = an independent person

In addition to difficult tasks in the proximal development area, there is another source of independence — when a person takes an entrepreneurial position and goes to study in the outside world. But such people usually run their own business, rather than work for a company. Therefore, this method is not suitable for the company.

In hiring, people can only learn to be independent in the environment the company creates. The more complex and aggressive this environment is, the more independent the people in the team are. However, there is a crucial condition: people should want this complexity and perceive it as a challenge, not as an idiotic requirement. The company will be able to train independent people only under this condition.

The task should be feasible, just like in the gym. If a beginner squats with a bar of 100 kilograms, he or she will get injured instead of building muscles, and if the person starts with an empty bar and gradually increases the weight, he or she will enjoy the growth of muscles and strength.

Suppose a company wants to get a team of independent people in a few years, for example, to enter the world market or assemble a large team. In that case, it is necessary to delegate and allow mistakes today. The less often a company gives people responsibility, the slower they grow. Yes, today, it is easier to do it yourself than to explain to someone else what to do, how to do it, and how to check the result and correct mistakes — but with this approach, in five years, the person will remain dependent.

The example of the army, where orders are not discussed, fits the story of delegation and independence. If a soldier thinks that the general gave him or her a stupid or incomprehensible order, a soldier cannot ask questions or argue but must do what he or she was told.

This way you can solve simple problems, for example, to paint the grass: the same order is given to a large number of people, the general says: “All of you have paint and a brush, go ahead and color the grass, in two hours I’ll come and check it.” Why paint the grass with a brush, whether this problem can be solved more efficiently, for example, by using a spray gun or planting a regular lawn — it does not matter.

Any manager, regardless of the management style, saves their resources; otherwise, the system will choke. There are two ways: you can save resources by standardizing the order, as in the example above, or by increasing the level of independence of employees and the complexity of the tasks that can be entrusted to them. For fast-growing companies, the second option is more suitable.

Part 3 coming soon. 

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