The Desk

July 14, 2012

Have a Plan

Filed under: Leaders,Management — Yvonne LaRose @ 5:23 PM
Tags: , , , ,

It’s striking when you observe some situations and realize the recurring problem is not so much a problem as it is a belief that things will take care of theirselves. Not so. These observations come from the tutor, teacher, child care provider perspective but they’re essentially universal. Followers, workers, students, and kids all seek guidance from their leader. They want the security of knowing there is some direction and purpose in regard to their activities. Without the guidance and a type of agenda for their activities, they feel lost and a need to keep checking in about what they’re supposed to be doing.

It helps to have a schedule with specific activities for specific times of the day or throughout the project. The activities need to be not only engaging but also purposeful. It helps to know when it will start; it’s even more helpful to have a sense of what signals the stopping point. Even more important is the knowledge that there’s a destination and being able to gain a sense of when that’s about to happen.

It’s important to keep the activity fun so the person stays interested. If fun doesn’t work for that situation, it’s helpful to post a challenge that will keep the person engaged because it’s educational or solves a problem. Allow them to feel as though their abilities are unique enough that they are the right person to create the solution. Most of all, at the end of the designated period of time, check in to see how the project is going and what was accomplished. Then offer a reward that’s meaningful. Sometimes it can be a simple acknowledgement. At other times, it can be a treat. And at still other times, it can mean the freedom to move on to another activity or choose what will happen next (within reason).

The creative aspect also encourages engagement. Engagement will induce sticking with the project because of the interest factor. It’s really gratifying when you have to tear your worker away from the project in order to get them started on something else. It staves off boredom because they feel there’s something they’re doing that is useful. They’ll look forward to the next day to get started again in order to finish what they’re doing. The more the worker gets involved with their project and has the liberty to use their creativity, the more they’ll begin to either silently compete with their own self to do a better job than on the last project or (especially if there’s some type of percussive element involved) compete in a healthy way with their team mates to do more with good integrity of product.

When it comes to people, it doesn’t really matter what the age. They simply want to feel as though the leader has a plan that everyone is working to achieve. Sometimes it’s important to give the big picture to those involved with it so that there’s an investment in the goal. Sometimes it’s enough to just allow the workers the satisfaction of knowing they’re part of the solution. They need a sense of direction. You know, having people carry buckets of water for miles could be viewed as similar to slavery and drudgery. But when they realize each bucket is watering the field or preventing disaster, they realize where their efforts are directed and that the efforts are purposeful. It makes them want to be part of the solution and that’s tied to the reason for the plan.

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