Growing Your Time by Giving Grace
Can giving grace be a way to help grow your own time and your people? Yes.
Here’s an example for you.
Let’s start with the problem. When Paula took a new middle management assignment she found that it included an employee who hadn’t been performing for a long time. The employee reported to Bethanne who now reported to Paula. Before Paula got the assignment, Bethanne had been told not to do anything to penalize or remove this employee because “We’re all family. We help the weak ones.”
“We’re all family. We help the weak ones.”
Sometimes we make the kindly decision to support one person’s weakness over the needs of the organization. Often, we don’t like it but just accept this and let the situation continue. It leads to dysfunction. It saps your time and the respect of people on whom you rely. In an organization with extra resources, this might be acceptable. However, how many of us have extra resources these days?
So how did Paula both generate growth and support people who needed help? This solution for growth comes from:
— Starting from the right place
— Engaging with people but releasing the work
— Giving grace
1. Starting From the Right Place
You already know that one of the fastest ways to engender resentment in employees is to try to please everyone. It is tempting to want to help people feel better and to do that we sometimes define ourselves by how others see us.
However, executives who succeed at sustainable growth don’t define themselves from an external standard. Those who consistently make growth work are the ones who define themselves from what they know is right.
These successful executives lead from their own core values. Those are what drive their decisions. Often, not always, it drives the culture in that business. It is always key to successful growth.
Paula chose to start from what she knew in her core was the right way to act and not react. She chose to improve her organization even if it meant releasing the employee who wasn’t performing. Prioritizing performance might not seem common in her company, but it is core to her values. And acting instead of reacting is another key value for her. She chose to combine these into a plan to engage but not do Bethanne’s work.
2. Engaging But Not Doing
The choice to shelter either the employee or Bethanne didn’t feel right for Paula. Sheltering is often a reaction, and one based on fear. You stifle growth when you let fear guide your choices. We and our businesses don’t grow from fear; we grow from stretching to fulfill our potential. We don’t grow from protecting; we grow from expanding our current abilities.
We don’t grow from protecting. We grow when we act, not react.
That feels intuitively correct, but how do you manage people to grow them and your own access to time? Instead of hands off management, you can:
- Provide meaningful problems for them to solve
- Engage with individuals as they solve these themselves
- Get out of the way as they own the issue, make mistakes, and learn
Engaging with employees is not protecting them. Engaging starts with actively choosing the challenge they will face. It continues with actively guiding learning and growth. It is acting to stay available and present for the work but not doing the activities for your people. This is hard work.
Growth happens when you are present, engaged, and managing the growth but not the activity.
Paula wanted to give this employee a full chance to make things work. Bethanne “Did that, but after another 90 days we just knew that he could not do the work.” Paula could have terminated the employee herself, and done it faster than delegating that task. However, she decided to structure this to become a doable learning experience for Bethanne.
“Having to deal with the bureaucracy and political burden of having to move somebody out of the business” was not new. Firing someone in a Fortune 100 company where poor performers do not get moved out of the business “that was the hard work. From me she got the encouragement. I told her that this is the right thing to do.” But telling her was not enough. “I provided the grace to do this.”
3. Giving Grace to Get Growth
What does Paula mean by “providing grace?” This is how she explains it: “I recognized that this was going to be a demanding activity for Bethanne.” The employee could be valuable elsewhere in the company, so this move had to be executed excellently and with real sensitivity. For Bethanne to do this and to grow, she needed relief from some of her everyday urgencies. That is the “grace” that Paula wanted to give.
It feels like a luxury to give someone time to think this all through, to research the right answers, to work out the details. For Paula that meant a conscious decision to reduce her workload in an environment where workloads were increasing. Paula chose to make Bethanne’s development a more important priority than any one project. She prioritized the organization’s growth ahead of both Bethanne’s normal workload and ahead of the employee’s comfort.
Paula looked at the best way to help Bethanne do this right and changed her workload for several months. “There were some assignments that I would have had go to her. I didn’t.”
Bethanne knew that Paula was involved and was investing in her. She also knew that Paula was not doing the work for her. Bethanne felt supported but also knew that she had full responsibility to get this issue right. Bethanne acted in the way that Paula hoped. “She responded to that by doing a complete job.”
This was was the reverse of normal delegation. In order to give Bethanne space to work this process, Paula had to take on more work for herself. Paula was was putting out more effort, not less.
However, there is self-interest here. “It is important to me as her manager; she becomes more valuable to me. It is important to Bethanne because important skills are expanded, it is important to the corporation because (we) have one more skilled manager.” No matter whether your team is small or large, having a skilled manager is going to be an advantage.
You don’t assemble skills like this; you grow them. You owe it first to yourself and then to your business and team to grow good managers. “Giving grace” is part of nourishing growth and growing your business.
Fostering Growth for Your Organization
Do you choose to make growing people one of those important contributions to your business? Paula made that choice here. “Investing in (Bethanne) was the right thing to do. She was a good manager on the verge of becoming a great manager. What more important managerial job do I have? That is the top of the game for me.”
“What more important managerial job do I have? That is the top of the game for me.”
Growth starts with working from your internal strength and values. The bad news is that you can’t rely on anyone else to get it. The good news is that you don’t need to rely on anyone else.
More good news: If you choose people well and let them learn, your team members don’t need to rely on you. You can let them supply their own strength if you can give them the grace, sense of values, and engagement to do so. Doing this grows your own access to time.
People will make mistakes, but progress is a changeless law. If you hold to your core values, and ask them to do the same, you will foster growth. Giving grace is a way to turn a problem into growth for your organization. And growth for your time as well.