How to nurture an employee's enthusiasm and inspiration

Extra time may be the most valuable tool a manager can grant inspired workers who want to put their ideas in motion

Dear Bob ...

I was reading your "Epiphany Half Life" article and wanted to respond to one section.

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You said, "Next: Put some skin in the game and ask Joyce to do the same. Tell her you're willing to invest two of her hours per week to create a formal business case (assuming that's the logical next step) by deferring or reassigning some of her existing responsibilities; in exchange you expect her to invest two hours a week of her own time."

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That deflated the whole thing for me, but I can't articulate exactly why. Did it seem condescending to talk about hours for a professional? I don't know. It's not the extra hours -- I put in extra hours almost every week, say 2-8 on average, and my staff does their share as well. Maybe it's that I have to prove it or make it 2 extra hours in a day (most days that is possible by skipping lunch and working an extra hour).

Maybe it's that I work so hard the hours that I'm here. It's probably just that pesky part of me who doesn't appreciate being under anyone's thumb! I'm not trying to be critical of the article, though -- you hit the nail on the head.

What I liked about this was the suggestion that the boss (be that myself or my own boss) lighten the person's load by deferring/reassigning, etc. to extend the EHL. I am going to try this with my own staff -- they are both going to a conference later this month and will no doubt come back with an inspiration or three.

I am very familiar with the inspiration kill you referred to, and my own boss did it to me recently and probably inadvertently (as a side note, the topic was sourced in your writing on customer service/IT integration with the business/book "FruITion"), but I have not figured out how to have a discussion about any kind of paradigm shift without him getting subtly defensive (arms cross, challenging questions not meant to forward the discussion). It might be a preference for being the source of great ideas, but not the recipient -- but I will eventually figure out how to make him both! :)

- EHLed

Dear EHLed ...

Glad you found the article thought-provoking. I think I understand what put you off, too -- as you say, when you don't pay much attention to how much time you're putting in, a conversation that makes it officially finite could have that effect.

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