Archive for ◊ October, 2015 ◊

• Monday, October 26th, 2015


Here’s a common complaint I hear from managers all over the world:

People don’t think for themselves anymore! They come to me with problems, not solutions. They want me to give them the answer. I don’t get the important things done because I spend my time solving their problems!”

Does this sound familiar? A lot of managers tend to blame Gen Y, but the reality is that it isn’t necessarily generational. In fact it might be embedded in your team or organisational culture. And you, as their manager, might just be the main culprit.


Doing the Easiest Thing

Humans are hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We stay away from those things that are hard, or might have adverse consequences. And we engage in things that are comfortable and easy. To put it in more simple terms – we are hardwired to do the easiest thing whenever possible.

But we, as managers, have a huge impact on our peoples behaviour and, in particular, on what seems like the easiest behavioural choice.

So here are two common mistakes that managers make in regards to this problem, the reasons they make those mistakes, and what they can do to change.


Mistake #1 – Making it too easy

Remember – people do the easiest thing. What’s easier than someone giving them the answer?! Managers tend to complain that their staff want all the answers, but then proceed to give them just that – all the answers.

Why you do it:

It’s easier for you too. It’s also quicker and you know you’re going to get the outcome that you want. Coaching takes a lot of time and effort. Giving the answer is quick and simple.

What to do instead:

Make it more difficult to ask for solutions. Ask them some leading questions and then, armed with that information, send them away to come back later with a solution. Some questions to ask might be:


  • What would you do if I wasn’t here?
  • Where else might you be able to find the answer?
  • If you were the client what would be important to you?
  • Have you considered x,y or z?


Even better – ask the same questions, or go through the same framework, every time. Your goal is for them to eventually ask themselves those same questions BEFORE they come to you. Repetition helps embed these questions in their way of thinking.


Mistake #2 – Not Celebrating ‘Good’ Mistakes

Behaviours are reinforced through reward and positive feedback. And behaviours are also extinguished through negative consequences. There is a real possibility that your staff have learned NOT to solve problems by themselves – maybe they got it wrong in the past and that led to some consequences. Or maybe there is some urban legend floating around about someone that ‘got it wrong’. We are hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain – if you are the person that comes up with the solution then they can’t get in trouble.

Why you do it:

Most managers think this is part of their staff ‘just doing their job’ and doesn’t need recognition. But you have to realise that, as a manger, it is also your job to build the behaviours that you want to see. Also, most managers already know the answer the their employees’ questions, so again it becomes easier to give the solution than to make the staff member work for it.

What to do instead:

Celebrate ‘Good’ Mistakes. Recognise and acknowledge when people have tried something for themselves. Even if it didn’t work, celebrate their effort. Do this in front of the team and not only does the person feel even better about their ‘accomplishment’ – the team also starts to recognise this as a positive behaviour.

These are two very simple things but they make a big impact.

Before you blame your staff for not thinking for themselves, think about how you contribute to the problem. If you give them the answers and fail to reinforce the positive behaviours, then maybe you need to rethink your approach.


• Monday, October 12th, 2015



Whether you’ve gota big project or event coming up, or you just want to have a great day,  there are two simple things you can do to boost your chanceof success. Recent research shows that great performance might simply start with what you choose to focus on.


Predicting The Future

What do you focus on at the start of the day? Do you get buried in what’s happening right now? Or do you start to focus on how your day is going to pan out and what’s going to happen?

Taking time to predict an outcome for your day, or at least part of it, tends to build a more positive mindset. Making predictions leads to an increase in dopamine – our reward and feel-good chemical (click here for the article)


When we make a simple prediction – even if it’s silly, like how many people are going to say hello to you today, then we set ourselves up for a little shot of dopamine. And the great news is, it doesn’t even matter if your prediction comes true or not. Your positive attitude hangs around regardless. When we make a prediction there are generally no bad outcomes. Either our prediction comes true, or we get information that helps us next time. Both of these things produce a reward response.

But when you’ve really got to perform in a pressure situation, maybe the best thing you can do is reflect on the past.


Reliving the Past:

A simple mental strategy to perform well when you really need to is to recall a time in the past where you’ve done really well. It doesn’t need to be a related situation – you might think of a great performance you had in your local soccer game, or that time at school when you nailed that exam.


In a study earlier this year (click here for the research) , recalling past success helped people to perform better in the world’s most feared task – public speaking. Not only did these people get better scores after recalling their past success (at anything) they also kept persevering in the face of adversity, when their evaluators gave them ratings that they weren’t happy with. So not only does remembering that great achievement boost your chances of success, it makes you more resilient and persistent.

So there you have it. If you want to have a great day, then maybe its as simple as being positive about the future and reliving past achievements. Start your day with these two things, and you might just surprise yourself.


** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert. He helps organisations build high performance culture and helps people manage their own performance and productivity. He combines the science of high performance with contemporary management theory to change the way people work and lead in the 21st Century. For more, visit


To book Tony for a speaking engagement contact his management agency –