8 Techniques that Help People Want Help
You don’t always have the luxury of waiting until people wake up to their short-comings and failures before helping them. Perhaps they’re oblivious or business urgencies require speedy improvement.
You can’t help anyone who doesn’t want help. Trying to fix someone is, in addition, insulting to them and folly for you.
You can, if time allows, help people want help. You can build an environment where others may let help in. Great managers don’t change people. They create environments where people can change themselves.
8 Ways to determine who to help?
- Individuals with technical skills but lacking social/relationship skills.
- People with social skills but lacking leadership/management skills.
- Good employees who can become great employees.
- Passionate but ineffective workers.
- The formerly engaged but newly disengaged.
- The newly promoted.
- Those facing new challenges.
- People out of balance – i.e. work load and prioritizing.
8 Techniques that help people want help.
If time allows let them suffer until they ask for help. If time doesn’t allow, try a few things on this list.
- Go on a journey with them. They may be resistant now but not later.
- Describe benefit – it’s the path to promotion, respect, balance, or effectiveness.
- Work “with” – not for or against them.
- Explain people change themselves. You won’t change them and you can’t help without permission.
- Perform a 360 degree evaluation.
- Inspire confidence by demonstrating confidentiality, consistency, and respect.
- Ask if they will take a first step.
- Ask how we can create a win.
Building trust is central to helping someone who doesn’t want help. It’s the underpinning to all eight techniques. Without it you’re doomed.
How do you determine who to help?
Do you think I should include threat of termination on the list of helping people want help?
How do you help people want help?
This post is inspired by and based on my conversation with Bob Hancox and Russell Hunter of Tekara. Visit “Coaching for Engagement,” for free chapters of their book.
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Regarding termination, possibly useful but only after you’ve tried everything else. Termination, like divorce, is an outcome of two people not being able to get things straight: boss and employee.
Not sure if this is a good practice or not, but I’ve always talked to people like this about their goals in general, and what might be keeping them from meeting their goals. Often they can at least partially identify the thing you’d like to help them with. If you have something concrete to offer (“Here’s a tool I used to be more productive.”) all the better.
Last thought: Be sure you’re already modelling whatever behavior you want them to acquire.
I so agree Greg with modelling whatever behavior leaders are endorsing. Will that expression ‘walk the talk’ ever get old?
I agree. The threat of termination should definitely be a last resort, but some people only respond when they feel their back is against the wall as it doesn’t “feel real” to them until that point.
I think I need help! Thanks for sharing definitely food for thought.
Very interesting topic and lists, Dan.
For those who don’t ask for help themselves, I simply ask, at performance reviews and other times such as coaching, “If you were to be helped with some things that will enhance your skills and abilities, what would they be?”
My way of helping people who want to be helped is the coach-approach of engaging them in a process in which they identify their goals and steps to get there. I assist them by cheering them on (sticking with them and supporting them) and coaching them through any blocks in their progress along the way.
In my view, the threat of termination is a helping technique and I don’t really agree with the statement, “If time allows let them suffer until they ask for help”..
Good stuff, Cinnie. I like, “If you were to be helped… It is a nice open-ended, non-threatening way to engage the person in a productive conversation. Thanks.
Dan, really like this topic. I identify closely with the 8 Ways and Techniques you list. Great reminders!
I determine who needs help by simply paying attention. Has the quality of their work, their interaction with others or their overall energy changed recently? I like to create an atmosphere where help given and supplied is a cultural norm, not viewed as a weakness. That’s not about unhealthy dependency, but simply trying to insure that we’re building skill, knowledge and productively serving our clients and each other. It probably answers your last question about how to get people to want help.
The “threat” of termination is an important piece of information that people need to know, if lack of performance has progressed this far. I view a lot of leadership as “exchange of information.” Sometimes I need information as your leader as to how you are experiencing your work life. Other times I need to provide you information as to how you are doing, what I really like about what you are doing, and where there are needs for you to make some corrections. These feedback conversations ideally go on frequently. They provide clarity, support, and depending on the circumstance, express the employee’s value. All of these elements are critical pieces in having a motivated and engaged employee.
Great insights Jim, especially the point about having these conversations frequently (early and often). Paying attention to our attention seems to be critical to this. What we focus on in any situation at work is shaped by the questions we ask ourselves, often unconsciously as leaders. The assumptions we have about giving feedback, providing support, or employee engagement in general determine how well we identity opportunities to hep individuals, and act on those opportunities.
As usual, really enjoyed the article! I appreciated Cinnie’s comment about asking the person what improvements or help they feel they need. This allows the reviewer to in a sense get permission to make suggestions in a non-threatening way. I think one of the things that managers forget and I don’t find ever gets mentioned in these types of posts, is the direct connection between employee performance and the way they are managed. Managers play a very large part in the employee’s performance and often what is perceived as poor performance on the part of the employee, can be traced back to the managers themselves. Lack of direction, micromanaging, double standards, poor communication, etc. on the part of the manager can often be the reason that many employees may seem to be falling short. Unless a manager or reviewer is open to receiving their own coaching or input from the employee. (#5 in the list) I don’t think that the manager’s suggesting ways for the employee to improve is effective in the long run.
I determine to help those who need, misled and willing to learn. Willingness is the deciding parameter. I agree that going forward to help someone without his or her will is counterproductive. So, intention and will actually determines whether person needs or seeks help or not. There are people who are misled and do not know what to do. In such cases, we should be volunteer to help them because they are ignorant and unaware. But egoistic and arrogant people should not be provided help, because they will fire you. Thus helping people with lot of negative perception, ego and arrogance will result into threat of termination.
I help people without expectation. I measure improvement by asking them. If they feel that they are improving, it is my reward. I have observed that fear dominates when people make repeated mistakes and do not ask others. I try to minimize their fear through increasing their confidence.
Why is Jerry McGuire coming to mind?
Maybe there could be a conversation like….”Dan, as you may know, I am consistently learning/ working on improving my skills and abilities because I believe I can be more effective and be able to help the organization if I keep that as a standing goal. Dan, is that something you believe in too or do you have a variation like that?” (If Dan says ‘yes’, then the door is open, if Dan says he doesn’t/hasn’t thought about it, then there is more foundational work to do while aligning Dan with the organizational values. If they are not organizational values, you have core work to do before you ‘help’ other folks.) In either case, it is a necessary dialogue.
Would tend to think those with tech skills lacking social skills would be a greater challenge due to basic personality issues being intertwined.
Threat of termination sounds harsh, unless other prior steps have not obtained the results needed. Not threat, reality of termination might be more accurate and would be presented along a continuum of options.
I have found that with people who resist help there usually is an underling issue. In each individual it is different it is the manager/leaders role to determine what that issue may be. Most often it is an issue unrelated to the organization/vision. In coming along side a follower/employee and asking specific questions to get to the real issue has helped the follower/employee refocus. I think if #6 were applied to me on my way up I certainly could have progressed much more quickly. Termination on the other hand should never be used as a tool to motivate, threatening may get a individual to improve temporarily but you will certainly revisit this problem often. Finding the real issue and dealing with it will result true benefits.
Connecting people to their own value systems provides the motivation from which confidence and risk-taking springs. One has to be so careful not to impose one’s values on another, however.