What NOT to Do with Smart People

I don’t know about you, but I often find that the best advice is not only crystal clear and simple… but frustratingly hard to implement despite its simplicity.


For example, Steve Jobs wisely declared:


“It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”


Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Why would anyone do otherwise?


Clear and simple, with one small challenge: Letting others make the big decisions (and sometimes even the small ones) requires two things:


  1. Trust
  2. Willingness to let go


Anyone out there have some latent (or not-so-latent) “control-freak” (i.e. perfectionist) tendencies? We all have them in some aspect of our lives, and we are addicted.


Letting go is hard.


But for there to be any possibility of letting go, mutual trust is a prerequisite.


Particularly in today’s virtual/hybrid world, when we only know each other as names in black squares or at best as floating heads in a virtual meeting, it can be even harder to develop that sense of true trust in others, both as competent professionals and even as people overall.


But what can be done to develop that trust, and even then, how do we let go?


This was one of the many themes of this week’s episode of the Speaking to Influence podcast.


Peter Joniec, co-founder and President of the Jonus Group, a staffing firm specializing in the insurance industry, shared his own journey on the path to letting go and learning to trust in his people.


It’s always hard to transfer the proverbial reins to someone else, especially when we’ve been doing the task for a long time and can do it extremely well, knowing that the other person will inevitably require a bit of a learning curve, and that may mean potentially substandard performance or production for a while.


Hint: There’s a very fine line between when you should and should NOT use the phrase “When I did this job…”


SHOULD: During instruction, especially if someone is struggling, e.g. “When I did this job at first, it was frustrating because… but I discovered it’s much easier if…”


SHOULD NOT: When repeated regularly, which sounds like haranguing and a constant reminder that you think you’re better than they are.


Those of us who are business owners feel that twinge even more strongly when we hire employees for our companies. It’s our money, our reputation, our customer relationships and more that is on the line, and the buck stops with us.


And as Pete described, that can be terrifying.


But since then, he has learned to put structures into place within his company to set up new employees for success, both personally and professionally.


One of the first stepping stones on that path is making key introductions to help them cultivate relationships with key partners, collaborators, and other stakeholders and resources from Day-1.


After all, don’t we perform better when there is a whole pool of resources out there to lean on from time to time?


Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.