378 | Encouraging Employees To Think Independently

Have you ever wished your employees would think independently? Or maybe you just want them to make decisions. Getting your employees to think independently is an essential step to creating what I call a growth culture. In this short video, you will learn how to get employees to think independently and what you must do to get out of their way.

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Encouraging Employees To Think Independently: The Transcript

Have you ever said to yourself, I wish my employees would make more decisions for themselves? That you wish they would think independently. I know I’ve said that before because I’ve worked with a lot of different employees over the years. I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for almost 20 years and I have wanted people to think for themselves because I knew that was the key for us to continuously grow.

If I had to make all the decisions for my team, we would not be able to grow as fast because I would get overloaded with all of those review points and checkpoints and all of the things that we’re doing and I needed to trust that they could make those decisions for themselves. And that doesn’t just happen because they’re smart.

A lot of smart people still don’t make those decisions for themselves. So I’m gonna tell you a little bit more about how to do that but let me introduce myself.

My name is Gene Hammett. I work with hyper growth companies. I study the top 1% of growth companies in America and I want to understand what really makes them tick and it comes down to their leadership and culture. And one of the elements behind that is getting employees to think for themselves, getting them to think independently.

Now, all the time I’ve been working with leaders, I really have seen companies struggle with this because they are good at doing the work. If you’re a leader that does work and came up through the ranks and you know how to do everything in your company, great for you but it can also be one of your downfalls because just because you know how to do it, makes it much easier for you to actually do it for them. And if you’re trying to create a company that grows really fast, you must have employees that are willing to think for themselves.

So if you understand that, you buy into that, then great, but those decisions and those moments as a leader, are so important because when you get everyone to really think for themselves and is everyone capable that’s on your team right now? Maybe not. Maybe you need to hire some new people. I’m not trying to say this in a rude way but if you’re trying to build a company that creates freedom and creates impact in the world, then you want people to think for themselves.

That is fact. So the main thing that you have to do, is you have to talk about work that they want to do or that needs to be done in a different way. Most of the time, you talk about getting the job done. You talk about the steps to do it. You’re really trying to be very helpful. You’re trying to be very intentional about supporting them through this.

That’s the mindset of this. And then you ask them to come back to you for review and that is really a good idea but what happens too often is they never break from that level of checking in. I recently was talking to a company leader who had to let go of a high performer employee because they were failing to make those decisions. They were failing to really put out the effort that it took to have the courage to trust themselves.

Now, it really comes back down to trust. Can they trust themselves? Are you the leader that allows them to trust themselves? How do you treat it when they fail? It’s very common problem to make someone feel a little bad even though you don’t intend to because they didn’t do it the right way or they didn’t do it your way. And you have to be willing to let go of that.

In order to get people to think independently, you want them to actually know what the goal is and set the standards for those goals and really work with you to co-create what is possible and you can challenge them to stretch beyond what they think is comfortable and let them think about the process to get there. Let them own the process, that’s the key. If you want them to think independently, you want them to think about the process and once they are owning the process, they will own the goal because they want their way to be the right way.

Now, you wanna also encourage them to think for themselves by actually proving you wrong. Yep, if you’re wrong and you have employees that think it should be another way and they go out there and bust their ass to make it so, isn’t that better? Isn’t it better when they actually disagree with you because they’re not just saying yes because you’re the authority?

That they actually go out there and really figure out what is the best way to do it, not because it’s your way, not because it’s just something that they thought of or read in a book, but they’re actually doing the work to figure out the best way.

Getting employees to think for themselves and think independently is the pattern for growth. I see this all the time as a leadership coach and I work with companies to create cultures that have a sense of ownership or growth and go beyond just the performance and I share this with you because I really want you to think about getting people to take more ownership. I’ll leave you with this. Patagonia has a CEO, Yives Charard or something. I’m sorry, I’ve just completely butchered that last name but that is something really important inside his company. Patagonia has a culture that no one wants to leave from.

They have a culture that really is a competitive advantage and that’s, this one quote comes from an interview I heard him on Masters of Scale podcast and the CEO of Patagonia was talking about his employees and he said, we had a psychologist come in and do some analysis work to understand how we could actually improve. And they were making that investment, even though, you know, they didn’t need to.

They were doing really well but they wanted to be really in tune with their employees. And the psychologist comes back after their studies, and said, you know what? Your employees are such independent thinkers that they’re unemployable anywhere else. Meaning they think for themselves to a degree and they’ve gotten so used to it that it’s becoming their new standard and they can’t go work for anyone else.

That is beautiful, in my mind, because those employees were able to run the show and grow and that’s what’s been happening to Patagonia and creating a brand that a lot of people admire in their marketplace. Well, that’s my story today. If you want your employees to grow, you gotta get them to own the process and that is the key. And then once they do that, they can own the goal.

My name is Gene Hammett. I work with hyper-growth companies. If there’s anything I can do for you, make sure you let me know. If you wanna take the growth culture scorecard, make sure you just go to Gene.Hammett.com/culture and you can download it for free. Take the score, know exactly where you stand and you’ll be able to tell where you need to focus your culture. All right, that’s my piece today. As always, lead with courage and I’ll see you next time.


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