After reading last week’s post (So, How Do you Plant A Seed Anyway), you may be saying to yourself, “that’s all fine and good but how do I apply what you’ve suggested in my daily life? So, this week, I will attempt to answer that question by providing suggestions for putting your new seed planting philosophy into action. Here’s how to get started:
Next time you are in a meeting and an issue–one NOT needing urgent resolution–is raised, try the following:
Resist the delicious temptation to talk. Be silent and listen. WHY? You are practicing all of the steps I mentioned in my last post for planting seeds, but primarily focusing on “#2. Being Respectful and Getting to Know your Team” and “#3. Knowing Your Facts.” There will be a time to speak, but for now, just listen to everyone else’s opinion. Listen for data points, statistics, etc. Listen to how your boss or leaders react to the problem. What is the body language in the room? Take note of suggested next steps and monitor how those suggestions are received.
When the time is right, speak up. If you are asked your opinion, say something like, “I am absorbing what you are all saying and I want to give some more thought to what has been discussed before I give you my opinion.” If you feel you have enough information to have an opinion, or if you are pressed harder, you can start with the above but then add, “I need to do more research but my initial leaning is to go with xyz… and here’s why.”
On the other hand, if you feel a decision is being too quickly reached without most of the key players or facts, then by all means speak up. I would suggest something like, “It sounds like we have a lot of really great suggestions. This issue is too complex, however, to solve right now. Here is what I propose… Let’s take 3 people from this meeting to come back to the larger group with a recommendation. This team should ferret out the risks and opportunities, analyze the data, estimate the costs involved, and talk to key stakeholders to get their initial opinion. I would be happy to be part of this group if you all agree. However, I think Mary, Tim and George brought up great suggestions and valuable experience in this area. Not having all the facts in front of me, I think we or they could have an initial recommendation by xxx.”
By doing the above, you are practicing your planting seeds philosophy in the following ways:
1. You are stating your opinion only after learning what your colleagues think and giving others the opportunity to talk,
2. You have educated yourself or are deferring comment until you have educated yourself on the issues, and
3. You are redirecting credit while also deferring participation and opportunity to your coworkers
Planting seeds will pay dividends. Maybe not right away, but keep practicing and you will see the fruits of your labor. In my experience, you will find your coworkers coming to you more often for advice, you will be sought out within the organization for your opinion, your relationships will be strengthened, trust will grow among your team, and you will be adding value in doing so…
Not by forcing it but rather by planting the smallest of seeds, under the right conditions, so that you can watch your influence and team grow in effectiveness and results.