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Stop treating me like a grown-up

I can’t recall the number of times I heard an employee, a colleague, and even a manager say “I wish my boss would give me more responsibilities and stop telling me what to do“. This seems to be a recurring theme but what really surprises me is how quickly people want to give up their new responsibilities and run to their boss to ask them what to do once they are given more responsibilities.

Growing up is a difficult endeavour and many people would prefer to remain “children” (sort of speak) within the organizational environment. Notice how, even within self-organized teams, people will go to the leader and ask for permission to do something – Can I delay my current assignment to start working on something more critical? Can I skip the recurring weekly status meeting tomorrow to help Peter resolve an important client issue? Can I spend $200 to purchase a new tool that will save me 10 days of work?

It is my firm belief that people are very capable of answering their own question and take the best decision. If they need additional information, I’m there to provide it to them. If they need my experience, I’m there to share it with them. If they need me to support them, I’m there for that also. But if they want me to take the decision for them, sorry I am not available or even interested in doing that. I like people to be accountable.

Every time, I ask people why they are asking ME for a permission to do something, I invariably get “I’m afraid to make the wrong decision” as the answer. Organizations are so slow to change, to evolve, to mature because of the constant fear maintained by the organizational structures, processes, and (yes) people.

Give some slack to your people and support them in the process of organizationally growing up but don’t get into the position of taking the decisions for them unless you want your organization to stop growing.

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