If you are a manager or founder of a smaller company, you probably know how you, from time to time (or most of the time), feel insecure about what your employees are doing when they are done with the task at hand, and if they are working on the project that you believe you have agreed upon.
One easy way to get rid of this insecurity is to walk over to the nearest employee and ask him or her aboutwhat they are doing, how the project is coming along, and if they are behind schedule or not.
Many managers, including myself, are doing this several times a day. In the morning to get a feeling aboutwhat is being done today, after each contact with a customer (or before) to make sure everything is movingforward as planned, and perhaps just to touch base at the end of the day to remove any uncertainties you have before you go home from work.
I used to have a lot of uncertainty being a single founder with 5 employees. I was unsure if they did what I believed we had agreed upon, I was unsure how long they were in the project and I was unsure if they had the right information to do the task at hand. That led to a behavior from my side where I did a lot of checking, a lot of asking, and a lot of interrupting of my Makers, most of it to get rid of this unpleasant feeling.
If you recognize this behavior or feeling in yourself, try looking at it from the employee side, it looks something like this:
The maker’s world
You are sitting at your desk, deep in flow with the task at hand. You have been using the last 30 minutes to get a grip of the entire task and finally you are getting to the point where all the dots are starting to connect in your mind. You have started translating this understanding into a solution with an ease andspeed that is unbelievable.
This is a state of mind called “flow”. It is a wonderful state, and most importantly, it is a state where you are significantly more creative and faster at your job!
Then, as usual, your boss walks up to you, just out of a meeting or a phone call with the client whose project you are working on, or will be working on next week. And, as usual, he will insist on asking you about your progress or about some stupid non-essential minute detail about the task you have to do next week, or about the progress of the current task; the task that you almost had done before he came and annoyed you.
The sooner you get your boss to leave, the faster you can get back to your (fading) dots that were just starting to feel connected and to the feeling of being in flow.
After the boss has left, you feel slightly annoyed and slightly depressed, the feeling of flow is gone and to shake off the annoyed feeling, you ask your co-worker if he wants to join you for a game of table soccer.
Back to your reality
Did you see what happened? Your uncertainty made you interrupt a Maker while in flow. A Maker in flow is often a happy Maker, and a happy maker is a more creative and faster Maker.
However, because you had some uncertainty and you wanted that feeling to go away, you interrupted the Maker anyway – and destroyed any chance of success for your business today.
To stop the insecurity and the need for constant pinging and interrupting your Maker try the following:
Every Monday morning, set 3 hours aside for a morning meeting. Gather all your Makers in a meeting room and have each and every one of them tell you what they did last week, how it went.
Ask them what went well and faster than planned, and ask them about what did not go as expected.
For each thing that did not go as expected, ask them why and listen to their story without interrupting.
Then ask them what they will do differently this week to avoid ending up in that situation again. Ask them what they have learned, and keep asking until they show you they have a new way of doing the task. Never give them an answer or a way to solve it; they have to figure it out themselves.
After they have told you about last week, get them to talk about this week; what they will do, what their plans are, what information they are perhaps missing, what they will build. Compare this to your vision and make sure to correct them where they are off center.
Keep asking them about everything they will do this week until you have no further questions and no gnawing feelings of uncertainty.
Then, after everybody has had his or her turn (including you), let them go and mind their own business -and do not disturb them during the week!
For the first few weeks you will start feeling the insecurity during the week, but within a month, I know from my own experience, you will not feel it anymore because you are synced with your employees every Monday.