Tradespeople fix things. Your tap is leaking, call a plumber. The electricity cuts out, you call an electrician. They fix things. They make us feel safe. They help us get on with our lives.
Your people are struggling with change and come to you for help? Do we fix them? Some managers feel like they need to have a fix. And if the fix is supplying an update on some information then great, there’s your fix.
But our people are human, and they are dealing with the internal machinations of change. So when they land on our doorstep in a state of uncertainty or fear of the unknown we cannot be tradespeople. If we think we need to have a fix then we will both fail in this situation. We will place unnecessary pressure on our own shoulders to have an answer for something we can’t completely understand (who really knows what’s going on in the head of someone else?) and most likely we will become a rescuer…we will discount the ability of our people to autonomously and successfully work through change with us being their supporter, encourager and leader.
And that’s the difference. Our fix, if we feel we need to have one, is to lead with empathy. Our tools include being aware of our own biases and concerns that may prevent us from supporting our people through change, and listening to what’s really being said so we can respond appropriately; they may just need to vent or share the load.
We are not in the job of fixing people, or having all the answers in all situations that can help our people move through change. But we are in the job of being there for our people, keeping our eye on the bigger picture, leading compassionately and with empathy and guiding the team as best we can.