Instinctively I had conducted an experiment without realizing that I was conducting it.
Attitude of a person defines the action s/he takes. I had heard this in different forms – as a forward, teaching, moralistic stories, quote etc – over several years. It always sounded nice, made perfect sense when instances were quoted. Like many things in life, it was nodded at and promptly forgotten.
Recently I was working on a project and had roped in a friend to assist me. She did not have much experience of working though she is a qualified trainer and occasionally helped her husband in business. She is very intelligent, a hard worker and a good learner. Unfortunately, like most people in India, she had been brought up to not ensure that no mistakes were made. She was afraid to try anything of her own, or give suggestions because it might be wrong or not the best solution.
When we started working together, this became apparent within a short time. While explaining and guiding her through things that were new to her, cajoling sessions to try things on her own, or give her suggestions, speak up what she felt etc started. It took few months to reach a point where she started experimenting on her own and asked for help when she got stuck. This was such a huge thing as it became noticeable to everyone that she had a very different kind of confidence in herself. The confidence is reflected in other aspects of her life too. She was able to deal with doctors and hospital administration, ask them for details, demand that they not rip her off, when her mother was hospitalized.
Another thing that we worked on was not leaving things unfinished or badly finished. Taking pride in one’s work helps in delivering good quality work and also acts as elixir. To go over one’s work and see if that is the best one can do was an important step in the process.
Once she picked these attitudes, she started enjoying her work. Fear about facing people in professional capacity or accepting projects in untried areas dissipated. On my part, letting go off ‘being the boss/teacher’, was tough and required some effort.
After this experiment I often wonder if this can be replicated in normal office environment. Can a manager work on the attitude of his team to lead them to accept the responsibility of better delivery? Can s stage be reached where we don’t have to police subordinates if we inspire them to work to best of their capability, believe in themselves, have pride in their work?
What do you think? Have you seen this happen anywhere?