Managers, motivation, delegation…and the Passover seder

What does the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover have to do with managers?

As Passover approaches, Jewish community leaders in Boston realized that one of the obstacles to young adults hosting their own seders (the traditional meal and ceremony) was that people just don’t know how to do it. With that one insight, had the idea to create a do-it-yourself kit for celebrating Passover that includes everything from the shopping list through the materials needed to lead a Passover seder on your own.

There are two lesson here for managers about motivation and delegation: 1) hone in on the most significant obstacles that might be keeping your team members from taking more initiative; and 2) offer support with a project’s daunting first steps.

Hone in on the right obstacles: There are lots of potential reasons why young Jewish adults might not be making the holiday on their own including the possibility that they’re just not interested. If there’s absolutely no interest, then all the support in the world may not make a difference. But if you focus on helping those people who want to do it but just don’t know how, then you’ve identified a problem for which you can create a solution!

Make the first steps less daunting: Very often team members get stuck at the very beginning of a project — overwhelmed by the complexity of a project or simply because they’ve never done anything like what they’re being asked to do. In the ideal delegation scenario a manager would say, “Now that we’ve discussed the context for the project, confirmed expectations and deadlines, let’s talk about how you might get started…” Or the manager might ask, “This is a large project. How can I help you jumpstart the effort?” ¬†Or, “Given everything we’ve talked about, where do you think you’ll begin to get this project started?”

Good managers remove obstacles and offer support to help team members successfully take initiative.

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