Leadership Lessons In Lawn Mowing
It seems that the grass in our yard SHOT up over the last couple of weeks, and it was time to do something about it.
On Saturday morning, I called my neighbors to ask if we could borrow their mower, as we always do. (I don't believe we all need our own.)
When I walked it back home, my 8-year-old daughter was there wanting to mow. I didn't complain.
I cleaned up some sticks that were in the way, and let her start. She wasn't efficient, and I know that I would have to go over it again when she was done, but that was fine with me. I focused on other yard work.
She started with enthusiasm, but not great technique. I knew she wasn't going to be fast or perfect. I didn't care.
When I next looked up, she had skipped a whole section, and she was over on the other side of the house, closer to where my husband was working. Once he saw her technique, he stopped what he was doing.
Unlike me, he took the time to teach her how to mow 'correctly' to be more efficient.
I commented that we had a very different approach. He said, "It's worth my time investment."
Next I looked, the lawn mower was sitting where I had last seen it, and my daughter was over at the neighbors.
While we ate our lunch, I joked that I had my next post ready.
My 'management' method was to just let her mow how she wanted, knowing full well that I would have to re-do part of it later (or not). For me, I was practicing letting go of expectations and perfection. Perhaps as she got older, she would find a more efficient method on her own. (Especially if we started paying her, not by time, but by job well done.)
My husband's 'management' method was to intervene early and teach, so that he wouldn't have to intervene and finish the job later.
So which method is better?
Is it better to let our employees flounder, be inefficient, and hope that at some point they come up with a better way as time goes on?
Is it better to teach our employees how we do it, thus increasing efficiency, and NOT allowing them the opportunity to make mistakes, learn from them, and find their OWN way forward?
Did my daughter quit and go to the neighbors because of my husband's attempts at teaching her HOW to do it better?
Would she have quit at the same moment with my more laissez-faire approach?
How did you learn how to best mow the lawn?
Originally posted on LinkedIn
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I am Theresa Destrebecq (I dare you to try to pronounce it...)