It’s said that advice is a lot like Castor oil – easy to give, harder to take.
And since that is so true, it means managers have their work cut out for them when it comes to giving good advice.
We all admire the wisdom of those who come to us for advice (ha ha). But that just doesn’t happen often enough. And therein lies the problem.
Good managers must give sound advice on a daily basis, and they can’t always wait until someone comes seeking it out.
Instead, it’s often dished out cold, sort of ready-or-not-here-it-comes.
There is a lot of advice available on how to give good advice. But you can take my advice that a lot of it just doesn’t apply in the real world of work.
For instance, a manager can’t always wait for the perfect and most reflective moment to give advice. Finding that moment is guesswork at best. And who has the time when the clock is ticking and things need to get done?
And in the business world, truth be told, advice isn’t always optional, either.
So, with that in mind, here are three tactics you can put into play when you know you need to give someone some good advice.
1) Agree On The Focus
The best first step is to get the person to agree that something could be fixed, improved or changed. But that’s also the hardest part.
Many times someone has already decided what to do and isn’t looking for your advice.
The trick is to get them thinking “Yes, I’ve been concerned about that as well.”
And one way do that is the tried-and-true tactic of asking open-ended questions.
- Tell me about ___________.
- What else can you do with the _________?
- What could you use to make the ___________________?
- What do you think would happen if ________________?
- Is there another way to ___________________?
2) Get Permission
That does not mean you ask “May I have you permission to give you some advice?” Forget that. Instead you want the person to discover your advice and take ownership of it.
One technique is to say “I’ve found some ideas on approaches you might try if you’d like to see if it could be improved.” Then turn it over to them.
The goal is to minimize any perception that they are somehow being controlled, and instead give them the tools to be in control.
3) Meet Them Where They Are
This is a mainstay of experienced educators and counselors. People are where they are – despite their manager’s desire for them to be further along.
The challenge is to step outside yourself and try to imagine the place others may be stuck in. It requires excellent listening skills. But it is amazing the discoveries a person or group of people make on their own if they are simply allowed to speak freely.