Managers, Teach Your Team Members Resourcefulness

Delegation is one of the most often discussed topics in management.  In this article I’ll focus on one aspect of good delegation – teaching team members how to seek resources as they work on delegated tasks. Not coincidentally, I’ll be leveraging research published recently in the Academy of Management Annuals* to promote this idea.

The researchers defined a resource as support provided by another while working to attain a work goal. The article discusses four types of resource seeking.

  • Feedback Seeking: Determining correctness or adequacy of behavior while accomplishing tasks, e.g. “Am I doing this right?”
  • Information Seeking: Gathering task and organization-related information to minimize uncertainty, e.g.”Let’s get regular updates from the development team.”
  • Advice Seeking: Connecting to form opinions, attitudes, and judgments, e.g., “Let’s ask Maria to see what she thinks about this”.
  • Help Seeking: Soliciting emotional or instrumental assistance to better manage a problem, e.g. “Can Caleb help with this?”

According to the research, those who are more adept at seeking resources as they work tend to produce higher quality work. Managers take note; ;if you want team members to be more effective in their work, teach them these strategies and give them a safe environment to use them. 

And now, a few thoughts that weren’t in the article.

After teaching resource seeking, be on the lookout for overuse of these strategies. One who is too often seeking feedback could be seen as insecure or less competent; perceptions to be avoided.  A help seeker who frequently seeks help will be seen as unable or unwilling to carry their own weight. Also, there are those who seek advice only to throw the advice giver under the bus if things go wrong. No one needs game playing like this. For a free a webinar about managing game players like in the workplace visit www.apgrow.com.

There needs to be a balance. Teach team members how to effectively seek resources to be more effective in their work. At the same time, ensure they understand that they themselves are responsible for the final product.  Guide team members in both these areas and you’ll find team members more productive and confident with their work.

Dr. Arron Grow is president of AP Grow and Associates LLC; improving tech firm productivity through management excellence. To arrange a free consultation, visit www.apgrow.com.

* LIM, J. H. et al. Soliciting Resources from Others:  An Integrative Review. Academy of Management Annals, [s. l.], v. 14, n. 1, p. 122–159, 2020.