Let Your Team Struggle In Order For Them To Grow

In theory, most leaders know how important it is to delegate challenging tasks to employees both to help them grow and create a collaborative, empowered, productive team. But, faced with real workplace demands, it can be tough to put this into practice. Many of my clients say things like “I’m the only one who can do the job” or “If this project doesn’t go smoothly, the whole team will suffer.”

Empathy can get in the way, too. When you see an employee struggling, it’s only natural to want to step in and help. But from the other side, this can feel more like micromanagement than support. And when leaders over-function by keeping too many tasks, they allow their teams to under-function.

Here are some strategies you can use to make delegation easier.

Shift from doer to leader mindset

In my corporate job, we promoted the best doers into leaders. This came with an assumption that they would magically shift from being good at and motivated by performance excellence and rewards to excelling at and caring deeply about developing others’ potential. The mindset shift may be the hardest part of all. So, how can you facilitate this in yourself?

Notice your payoff from doing. The thrill of achievement provides a quick dopamine hit. But that’s something you need to resist to get to the greater fulfillment of having helped others improve.

Claim your leadership identity by getting clear on values. Ask yourself: What three words do I want people to use to describe my leadership style? For example: Do I want to lead with control, urgency, and expertise? Or, with patience, curiosity, and empowerment?

Be intentional about responding, not reacting. In the moments where you are triggered to step in, ask yourself:  Would that be aligned with my values and who I want to become as a leader?

Embrace the discomfort of the learning process

Many leaders have said that, after witnessing an employee falter, taking back the work felt like the most supportive thing to do. But there is power to holding space for struggle. Yes, this creates discomfort for both leader and employee because it’s a new way of working for everyone. However, as Gallup reminds us, one of the keys to engagement at work is the opportunity for stimulating challenges. And when you push through the struggle, the result is growth for all parties.

How can you embrace, rather than resist, the struggle of learning?

Name your emotions, which according to psychologist Susan David, offers clarity and resiliency and can empower you to respond in an intentional way, aligned with your values.

Normalise being uncomfortable, embrace the struggle. Neuroscientists know that these are the periods in which learning happens and perseverance is developed.

Reframe the situation. One potential reframe is: “I was allowed to struggle and that’s where I gained confidence in my skills. So I’m going to give my employee the same gift of time to solve the problem on their own.”

Distinguish between high- and low-stakes tasks

Leaders often tell me they remain stuck as doers because employees make too many high-impact mistakes that require intervention. But this usually happens when the bosses themselves hold on to all the work for far too long and are then forced to delegate at the wrong moment. The key is to instead hand off tasks when the stakes are low and missteps tolerated, or even expected.

What makes an environment low-stakes? Failure will support learning more than it would hurt reputation. Mistakes will not impact team or company success. The environment is safe for stops and do-overs. The people involved have support and compassion for less experienced colleagues on learning curves.

To know which tasks are ripe for delegation, consider ones that now feel easy or rote to you but would be good development opportunities for those on your team? Also think about work that drains your energy and doesn’t align with your skills, talents, and strengths but might excite and feel like a perfect fit for others. 

For example, if your employee’s goal is to develop better presentation skills, try a low-stakes activity like asking them to lead the next staff meeting before a high-stakes one like conducting a client meeting. Or, if they want to get better at influencing others, challenge them to get buy-in from a small team on using a new tool or work process before asking them to persuade your whole division to implement it.   

Be curious and facilitative

Early in your corporate career as a trainer, people may tell me that you are visibly nervous during sessions you are leading. You may explain to your boss that I was worried about not having answers to participants’ questions. Her response: “What if your role isn’t to have all the answers but to facilitate the expertise in the room?” This changed my perspective.

Like trainers, leaders can’t be expected to have all the answers. But they do need to have patience and curiosity and ask insightful questions to facilitate learning. For example: What has your current approach been? Can you apply past experience to this problem? What is this situation teaching you?

Finally, practice compassion and grace. This doesn’t mean tolerating poor effort or careless mistakes. Instead, it means offering understanding and accommodation in the face of someone not doing something exactly how you would do it.

You got to have the courage to delegate to colleagues and team members even if it means watching them struggle. That’s the only way that all of us — leaders and employees — grow.


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Unmasking Proximity Bias in Remote Work: Shattering the Illusion of Objectivity

Mentor Relationship and Its Growing Importance in Organisations

Connecting with a mentor can be a huge benefit in your career. More and more companies are launching and expanding mentorship programs, so they are designating mentors, matching mentors, and establishing mentor-mentee relationships from the moment you join the company.

But for many, the assignment of a mentor is only a first step. Like a blind date, it can be awkward—only a toe in the water in an uncertain sea. As a mentee, how can you make the relationship successful? Especially if you’re new to a company or a role, you may not feel you have a lot of influence in the venture. In actuality, you can significantly contribute to creating the conditions for a great experience.

Many successful people attribute at least part of their success to having a mentor. The right mentor can provide advice and connections that help their mentee reach heights that would be impossible alone.

A mentor helps you build your skills as a leader, a strategist, a consultant or a manager. They can guide you toward making sound decisions that positively affect the trajectory of your career path or in gaining skills needed for your industry. In the entrepreneurial sector, a mentor can help you successfully guide your new business through the pitfalls inherent with being a start-up, including funding challenges, paperwork, finding clients, and delivering on projects, for example.

But, like every relationship, building and maintaining a successful mentor relationship isn’t effortless.

Mentorship requires intentional investments of time and energy; you get what you put in

Being a mentee is not a passive role. When you have a mentor, it’s your job to define your own goals, cultivate the relationship, seek out advice, attend meetings or events you’re invited to, and so on. Mentorship is not a “do it on the side” or “when I get time” job. It’s real hard work that requires dedication and commitment much like any other part of our job.

Apart from time being of paramount importance to succeed in a mentor-mentee relationship, it also requires a tremendous amount of energy to engage, guide, deal with the ups and downs and all possible human emotions that come into play when two people are trying to achieve something significant.

A true meeting of the minds requires true commitment to each other and their time. Set time boundaries, define protocol to cancel, agree on the medium to contact depending on the issue. It’s highly advisable that both mentor and mentee write down their commitments and refer to them from time to time. `

Form a personal connection, understand each other’s principles and values, strengths and weaknesses, what drives them and what they wish to achieve out of this relationship. Discuss shared values like integrity, mutual respect, openness, trust and active listening as the basis for all conversations.

As much as possible, take time out to engage in face-to-face conversation (video, in-person). It’s not enough to hear a person’s words. Their body language, facial expressions and emotions play a large role in understanding their true intent. 

How long should a mentoring relationship last?

There is no one-size-fits-all relationship in the mentoring world. If the two of you are working together on your own, the relationship can last as long as is mutually beneficial. Some mentor-mentee relationships last a lifetime and often grow more equitable over time.

If you’re part of a more formal mentorship program, there may be time requirements you need to follow, so make sure you’re fully informed about your program. Knowing the guidelines also shows that you’re a good candidate for mentorship and that you’re taking the opportunity seriously. A good rule of thumb is to meet once a month for six months and then re-evaluate whether to continue together in your last couple of scheduled meetings.

What are the benefits of mentoring?

A good mentor relationship gives you a powerful resource for advice, strategy and a deeper understanding of the world you’re working in. That relationship can guide you through defining and understanding your job role, navigating any problems at work and empowering you to do your best work – which, in turn, can result in promotions in the corporate world or long-term business success in entrepreneurship.

At the same time, the relationship benefits the mentor, too, providing a way for them to feel heard and valued for their experience. The perspective provided by a mentor can elevate your career by helping you to be your best – if you’re willing to engage, listen, ask questions and cultivate the relationship over the long-term.

The journey itself is the reward

The mentor mentee relationship does not end once mentee achieves their desired goals. The deep bond formed during these years lasts forever. People remember good mentors and mentees throughout their life. They cite their examples when talking to others and draw inspiration from them when faced with challenging circumstances. Their paths may go separate ways but it’s the journey that stays with them forever. Remember, good mentees can become successful mentors one day. Do your best to create this beautiful relationship that sows the seeds for many more in future. I am excited to see you apply it in your work environment and in personal life.

Overall, know the relationship you have with your mentor is yours to shape and influence. It’s a context for plenty of learning — about tasks, roles, culture, and the network—and it can also be a great place for you to expand your views of what works best. Later, when you’re the mentor to a new mentee, you can apply all the best practices you’ve learned from the relationships you’ve built. To be a mentor makes you a more understanding human being. It helps you keep your mind young and your skills fresh. Successful people who don’t start to mentor others will over time lose touch with their own excellence. Mentoring someone connects you back to the original you who became so excellent.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

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