Room to Tinker

"If your shoulder starts to hurt while doing a push-up, the first thing you will do is start making some adjustments to your form. This happens spontaneously and unconsciously. You might slow your speed, move your hands a little bit further apart, or adjust your trunk angle. After a few repetitions of playing around, the shoulder now feels comfortable. Now imagine you are in a class with an instructor telling you exactly how you need to be moving, prescribing the “correct” hand placement, technique, sets and reps. Or worse yet, telling you that you need to stop moving right away and go to the doc. This might inhibit the natural tinkering process that would have solved the problem." (Todd Hargrove, Playing With Movement)

As a manager, it’s natural to want to step in when we see an employee struggling. We know we can leverage our experience to make their lives easier. The trouble is what happens later when we’re not there to provide a step-by-step. They freeze, worrying about remembering the steps instead of feeling out the situation, asking questions, and making their way. The best thing we can do as managers is to teach the fundamentals, leaving enough room for employees to tinker and figure out their version of solving the problem.