I left a business meeting with an employee once with a new understanding that
I needed to consider how much of my thoughts I share.
We met weekly to discuss the details of managing current clients, finding new ones, scheduling employees, and possible future business. I was becoming increasingly annoyed that there was often no change, no progress from one week to the next in this employee. I would leave a meeting thinking it was productive with tasks and actions to take, but the next week, we were back to the same topics.
“Why aren’t you motivated to be creative and to take initiative?” I asked. This was a capable and experienced woman. “Because you throw so much at me that I have no idea where to begin,” was her answer.
Wow. I was using our meetings for brainstorming, ideating, and getting excited about the possibilities. In her role as manager, I assumed she was right there with me, invested and processing where we were and where we might go. I was throwing out ideas to see what might be something to try, looking for ways to motivate and energize her. I expected her to sort through our conversations and determine the next best step for her to take within her job description.
My results were far from what I expected and needed. Instead of motivating, I was actually paralyzing my very valued employee.
It is almost never (never) safe to make assumptions. We had lost valuable time and I had stifled action by assuming she knew I was just throwing out ideas that I was trusting her to sort through for the good ones.
Learning to curb my ideas with this employee led to better productivity for her. It also led to a better use of my time. I found other ways to be creative verbally (thanks, husband!). I learned to qualify my thoughts at times (“This is just an idea….no action needed, yet.”) I spent much less time being frustrated with lack of progress in ill-defined expectations. She became less frustrated and became more motivated and productive.
Of course, since that was such a huge, personal learning moment, I began to see other situations where I needed to hold my tongue. There are times when no one cares what I am thinking. There are times my opinion is not relevant to the conversation. There are times when the people around me don’t care if I have had a similar experience, been to the same place, know the same information, or had the same reaction to a situation.
Speak Less. Be Intentional.
Being intentional in conversation leads to saved time, improved relationships, increased knowledge, lowered frustration, and greater productivity. Not to mention lower stress.