The Knowing-Doing Gap
"Turning speech into action is much more difficult than turning action into speech."
In most cases, the managers do not lack knowledge about what and how to do, but they lack the courage and discipline to put their knowledge into practice. This insight comes as a surprise to the sponsors of the leadership programs when we start a new project. These sponsors typically think that the managers lack the knowledge from several wagons of books and the business models that are being studied in MBA programs, etc.
All this technical knowledge is essential, but it is not the most important thing. Besides, it is readily available on Google and Amazon. The lack of knowledge rarely hinders managers in their daily work. The real obstacles are derived from the lack of courage and discipline. The managers do not organize their time and priorities well. They pay attention to the noise and not to the signals. When they lack courage - they put their comfort before their growth. Comfort and growth cannot co-exist.
So, it is not a question of more knowledge to improve the performance of managers. It is a question of the real use of the already gained knowledge and skills - to set ambitious goals, to give inspiring feedback, to delegate, to align the company's goals with the needs of the people, to celebrate victories, to learn lessons from failures, etc. We must address the gap between knowing and doing. The real things that stand in this gap are never material. There is no real lack of supplies and budgets. The real things that lack are courage, discipline, and adherence to one's high standards.
Falling into the knowing-doing gap is inevitable. The point is rather to note that the obstacles to overcoming everyday problems are not related to the lack of new knowledge, but they are related to the lack of the use of this knowledge.
For example, if you want to achieve an even workload distribution in your team, you know that you should direct the new tasks to those who are less busy now. You do not lack any special formula and knowledge of how to distribute the workload effectively. However, instead of assigning the new tasks to more available people, you choose to give assignments to those that are already busy.
Why does this happen?
You choose to put extra work on the shoulders of already busy people simply because you know they will do the job.
For the junior managers, there is a tendency to look for entirely new solutions to the same old problems. Sometimes you just must implement well-functioning and time-tested solutions.
The desire for continuous learning can be confused with the desire for constant procrastination.
Learning is much more comfortable than actual work. Actual work goes hand in hand with receiving negative feedback. This might be uncomfortable.
There is another manifestation of this knowing-ding gap. Managers complain that the same people ask them about the same things - for example, how to answer a common customer request, how to fix something on the computer, etc. The frustration comes from wasting managerial time on questions whose answers are clear to the people, but they, out of habit, prefer to ask again and get the same answer again from their managers.
The problem here is not with the people who are asking the questions. The problem is in the managers who provide the same answers repeatedly. The ones who ask questions should also be asked - "What do you think will happen if nothing has changed since last time?", "If you were in my shoes, what would you answer?", "How can you find out this on your own?", etc.
Teams are always a reflection of their managers. When there are people who do not think for themselves and do not take responsibility for their actions - managers have developed a tolerance for others who do not take responsibility.
When managers do not demand responsibility - they create bad habits in their people and open the door to learned helplessness. In this way, managers turn their people into walking mailboxes, which collect problems from the different corners of the company and bring them to their manager to solve.
The manager's job is not to solve the problems of his team, but to increase the capacity of people to solve their problems. Whatever these problems are.
To help people improve and solve their problems, you must first improve their thinking and attitude to deal with challenges. Your outstanding work with people always starts with genuine work on yourself.
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