Photo by Robert S. Donovan
A discussion in class yesterday prompted me to think about the subject of Push vs. Pull management. What does that mean? Ask yourself – when do you actively engage with your employees and when do you wait for them to come to you?
My guess is that for most managers, the instinct of when to push and when to pull is out of tune.
They tend to push criticism (not feedback), rules and answers.
They tend to pull feedback (that is, they give feedback only when asked to), recognition (yearly performance reviews, anyone?) and taking hurdles out of employees’ way (that is, wait until the employee comes to them with a problem).
One example. Do you have an open door policy or do you practice MBWA (management by walking around).
People are just begging to be told what to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think the biggest one is: “If you tell me what to do, the responsibility for the outcome is yours, not mine. I’m safe.”
When asked, resist.
Instead of pulling people to ask you what they should do, resist the temptation to give answers and push back with some questions. Susan Docherty, who leads the United States sales, service and marketing team at General Motors, said, in an interview on the New York Times:
It’s one thing to say that you’re inclusive, but it’s a whole other thing to be inclusive. And when people come into my office, they feel welcome. My door is open. They can bring ideas. They begin to understand that, as a leader, I want to be collaborative. I don’t have all the answers or all the best ideas, nor do I want to.
You don’t have all the answer either. So, why not start asking great questions instead?
The ability to pull and push in the right times is critical. When do you push and when do you pull?