Sharing the good stuff
During an employee engagement workshop I was facilitating, one of the participants shared the story of her former boss. He was a designer of some repute – well respected and well known. He engaged her in her work by:
- sharing everything he was thinking and doing, even things she could not understand yet;
- treating her as an equal even though she was clearly not at his level that early in her career; and
- never embarrassing her with his vast knowledge and skills – just patiently sharing and coaching.
She never forgot the example he set about how to mentor and how to be gracious and supportive of someone who is just learning the ropes. He showed her what success as an independent designer could look like while helping her learn the basics. She felt honoured by the experience.
The emotion in her story is what made it so memorable – not to mention the fact that it still resonated with her years after her employment. This leader really cared and his behaviour had a lasting impact. I think of this story when I am frustrated with a new member of my team. Have I been generous with my time and energy? Have I shared enough, or am I being sneaky by waiting for them to prove themselves before I really open up? We should assume success before we even begin: welcome people fully onto the inside track; let them see the whole picture early on; and let them figure out if they can see themselves in the full role.
The alternative is to let them in slowly and keep the big picture a mystery. It seems to be a common approach, but it hardly seems inspiring to me.
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