Often, we hear from experienced managers that they are proud to say that they have learned to “trust the process.” Those same managers will describe that they have encouraged younger, greener mangers to do the same and have been shocked when problems arise. Unfortunately, this advice can get less experienced mangers in trouble especially if “trusting the process” isn’t fully defined, since most of them assume that “trusting the process” means just letting whatever happens happen. And that’s rarely successful.
When we suggest to our clients that they learn to “trust the process” we have to help them get over the idea that we are advocating chaos, mutiny or incompetence. Once we explain what it takes to “trust the process” and why it’s an important point of growth, people generally come to the realization that they can benefit from learning how.
“Trusting the process” is primarily about trusting that you have managed what you can manage; that you have been clear in your efforts and expectations; that you will monitor your efforts and those of the people you work with; and then hold the results up to the standards and metrics that will inform you if things are on track and moving forward. When you “trust the process,” you are confident in your plan and the competence of the people you need to rely on. And then you let go.
By letting go, you let the effort unfold and trust that you have set it up for success. Letting go doesn’t mean that you turn a blind eye. You need to stay mindful of the process, and if you are not seeing the success you expected in a reasonable time frame, take action to get things moving in the right direction, but give it time to unfold organically first.
Remember, there will always be variables you cannot control, predict or interrupt so don’t get consumed with every unique variable that comes your way. Instead, put yourself in the position where you develop your expertise and that of your staff, you trust your efforts (and the staff who may be executing those efforts), you can see that you have done all that you can do at the time, and then let things unfold, knowing that you will take action if need be.
In a recent conversation an executive was recounting his experience of letting go and said, “I sometimes feel like there is magic in the world . . . and there is . . . and I have realized that it’s my clarity, focus, effort, persistence and passion that activates the magic and moves us forward! And, I know now that some of the magic is trusting the process and trusting myself so that I can let go, see what unfolds and determine the effective next steps.”