While being lazy is not an attitude we want to encourage in our children, we have to acknowledge that there is an element of truth in this statement.

I see your hackles are rising.  You’re saying “But I didn’t get where I am by being lazy!”.  But even Bill Gates agreed.  He said: “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because he will find an easy way to do it”.  What he meant is that we are an intelligent species and can figure out ways of saving ourselves effort by being clever.  Bill Gates was encouraging people to think through their own path of least resistance to achieve a goal.  Perhaps in the workplace we wouldn’t use the word “lazy”, but we might call it “pressing the EASY button”.

Those who have learned the basics of coaching know that when you are coaching someone it is very important to resist the urge to step in and give the answers.  The coach’s job is always one of asking questions.  If you are coaching a member of staff about a problem, it is at the point where they say “I don’t know” that you have to sit tight and keep your mouth shut, or ask another question just to keep their thoughts moving.  It is likely that the more resistance they feel, the nearer they are getting to finding the answer for themselves. If you break that thought process and offer a solution they will immediately take your lead and stop making the effort to work it out for themselves.  They will press their own EASY button – i.e. just do what you suggest.

If they see the way forward for themselves, they will take more responsibility for making it happen because it is coming from their own belief and not just because they are being compliant to your wishes.

So make them think. Don’t give them your answer.  Make them find their own easiest way of achieving the goal.  The chances are, when it comes, it will be a much better idea than yours because they do the job every day and you don’t.

So wait, listen, and ask what their actions will be.


To learn more about coaching skills consider coming on our Coaching Skills for Managers course.