When Helping Hurts

Helping people requires more than giving answers particularly when you want them to function on their own.  When you provide a rescue or bailout, you are actually doing what you want them to do.  You’re doing it, not them!  That makes them dependent on you.  Good for creating loyal customers or followers, but bad if you want people to be productive.

Can you imagine the depth of the hole they’ve dug when parents can’t get their fully grown children out of the house?  What about the sales manager who can’t seem to find people who can close the deal?  What if in our desire to lend a helping hand, we end up repressing skills and crippling productivity?

I went to my aunt when my shoelaces were untied.  With her welcoming smile, she stopped whatever she was doing to help me.  She reminded me again and again that whenever I needed my shoes tied, I was to come to her.  Welcome to a codependent relationship.

Typically, when we teach a team, a comfortable setting is provided to ease anxiety and facilitate learning.  We use verbal instruction, visual aids and questions.  We ask them if they understand, quiz their knowledge and urge them to ask questions.  Now if performance lags, we are quick with the helping hand.  If performance continues to falter we increase our instruction, coaching and guidance.  Whenever people don’t live up to their potential we think there is something wrong with them.  Hey, why don’t we focus on the instructions, the methods or the manager?

When potentials continually fail to produce, we need to see the bigger picture.  This helping hand impulse is what I call a “band-aide.”  It is quick, easy and it gets the job done.  Unfortunately, it also stifles skill building and contributes to eroding the profitable productivity of others.

There are benefits of band-aiding besides being fast and convenient.  How often do we hear ego statements like, “You couldn’t have done it without me.” Or, “Thank goodness I was able to step in and save the day.” Having people rely on you IS gratifying and validating.  It makes band-aiding a seductive habit.  However, whenever you are in a position to help or train others to improve their skills or performance, LEAVE THE EGO AT THE DOOR.

I had a difficult time with my shoes.  They wouldn’t stay tied.  My attempts didn’t produce bows that looked good or stayed tied.  I wasn’t as good as my aunt.  She was quick with the tie and produced bows that didn’t unravel.  AND, she made me feel loved when I came to her for help.

Show me a person that works with a band-aider and I’ll show you mediocrity.  Improvement is hard.  If it was easy everyone would do it.  Look at those who are forever seeking to lose weight.  They try the fads, follow the gurus, swallow the pills and continue a life of yo-yo waistlines.  Following the band-aiders gives an immediate boost and the illusion of more good results.  It’s like using a treadmill to run.  You build up a sweat but don’t go anywhere.

Band-aiding is win-lose.  The band-aider wins admiration, respect and success.  The band-aidee loses risk-taking, self-esteem and confidence.   This  doesn’t help them achieve their potential or promise.  Isn’t this too costly?

Having a band-aider in a leadership or trainer position creates that codependent win-lose relationship that seems fine in the beginning but deteriorates over time.  Dwindling results eventually reveal that this is a pattern that needs to change.  If not, leadership might actually propagate the fiction that they just need to find the RIGHT employee.  That’s nuts!  People CAN learn, change and improve.

Look around.  Do you see band-aiding?  Do you band-aide?  That familiar fable of the tortoise and the hare emphasized that speed isn’t the winner.  Take time to effectively help people.  Get them out of their seats and participating.  Let them get uncomfortable and make mistakes.  Experience is the best teacher.

I have three guidelines I use whenever I train or coach.  The second is NO BAND-AIDING.  What prevents that from happening is the third guideline which is IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP.  What inhibits band-aide situations from developing is the first guideline.  IT’S OK TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE!  This means that when your are in the pursuit of something expect anxiety.  If a person is not willing to accept a bit of discomfort to improve themselves or achieve goals, nothing changes.  So band-aiders don’t step in to ease discomfort because it’s up to the pursuer to succeed by experiencing the anxiety it takes to get the job done.

Training or coaching people to improve performance can’t just focus on facts and figures.  Behaviors are fueled by feelings.  Band-aids relieve anxiety, embarrassment and all sorts of uncomfortable feelings.    It also relieves their motivation to change, improve and overcome challenging emotions.  Remember, feelings drive behaviors.  Don’t take away their drivers!  Emotional intelligence (EQ) skills aren’t developed through traditional classroom sitting.  I help people to learn, change and improve.  My process is called MOVVE™, the procedural application of Elite Motivation which boosts IQ with EQ (Emotional Intelligence) with “get-out-of-you-seat” experiences.  Our MOVVE™ motto is “Actions Create Change.”  No Band-aides here!


Book Cover5When you have direction and a destination worth living, change and improvement just takes practice.  Get on the MOVVE with Elite Motivation!

My book, Elite Motivation, can be found on Kindle and Amazon.  Follow this link to find out about it: goo.gl/OPZXsp

Movve Book coverMy Guidebook, which offers a graphic filled step-by-step format can also be found on Amazon and Kindle.  Here’s the link:  MOVVE – The Five Keys of Elite Motivation

Contact Jamie Cox M.Ed., (509) 396-4307, email: themovve@charter.net or at our website: themovve.com  Discover MOVVE™ our procedural application of Elite Motivation that walks the talk of messages, information and knowledge.





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