So how might we be inadvertently holding back our teams and crippling our own cultures? What, exactly, are we doing to send our people into their Critter States? More to the point, what are you doing? Comaford describes a few (very subtle) offenders:
You “help them out” by giving them solutions. Or, in Comaford’s words, you advocate when you should be inquiring. When we consistently tell people what to do instead of encouraging them to figure things out on their own, we develop a company full of order-takers instead of innovators. By training them to always ask, we create a workforce of employees who are perpetually “frozen” in their Critter State.
On the other hand, when we engage them in solving problems themselves, we create a sense of safety, belonging, and mattering—which Comaford says are the three things humans crave most (after basic needs like food and shelter are met). And of course, we help them develop a sense of ownership that will serve them—and the company—well.
“Start inquiring and see what happens,” suggests Comaford. “Ask, ‘How would you do it? What impact might your course of action have?’ After you do this a few times with someone, she’ll start expecting you to ask questions instead of give orders. She’ll start coming to you with ideas, seeking feedback and validation. And after a few of these sessions, she’ll come to you saying, ‘I have a plan, here it is, and speak now if you aren’t okay with it.’ Finally, she’ll stop coming to you altogether.
“Aim for five inquiries for every advocacy,” she concludes. “You’ll be amazed by what a powerful difference this makes in your employees and your company.”