My friend was a principal at a local high school.
One day he witnessed a group of students on school grounds almost run over an older woman with their skateboards.
He immediately called them into his office and told them that their thoughtless behavior was completely unacceptable. He could have said – “That’s it. No more skateboarding on school grounds.”
Instead he asked – What are you all going to do about this?
He didn’t tell them what to do. He asked them what they’re going to do.
They told him. And then he said, you sit in my chair. You all are the principal. What do you think of what you’ve just proposed? They acknowledged that from that perspective their response had many failings. He said he wanted a thoughtful plan by tomorrow.
The next morning the group of skateboarders showed up with a full fledged plan of action. They were proud of the plan. It was a thoughtful plan that the prinicipal approved.
But even better than the plan – was it’s implementation. Because they created the solution, the skateboarders had “bought in” and valued and followed their own rules. They even enforced these rules with their fellow skateboarders and defended the prinicipal.
Imagine if the next time an employee makes a mistake, instead of telling them what to do, you asked them – what are you going to do about it?
Imagine if you asked them to sit in your chair, take on your responsibilities for a moment, is what they’ve suggested sufficient?
No scolding. No disciplining. No top down finger wagging. No soft “we all make mistakes, just don’t do it again.”
Instead real deal solutions created, bought into and implemented by your employees.
Old school, meet new school 🙂