Monday, 17 December 2007

Are you a Zapper or a Sapper?

I've seen a couple of recommendations for 'Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment' by William Byham with Jeff Cox and thought I'd give it a read (1999 2nd edition). Normally I dislike fable-style business books and prefer something with a little more meat to them. However, in this case, I am glad I made an exception. It's a very quick read and is as relevant today as it was back in the eighties. Much of the content is what we recognise as good common sense leadership and effective management - yet recognising it in our own workplaces is that bit harder.

One of the employees goes behind his supervisor's back and creates the 'Ralpholater' which transports he (and eventually his supervisor) to the 12th dimension which is a fantasy world version of the real world where fighting fires is really fighting the fires made by dragons, the manager is a huge green troll, etc. This appealed to the fantasy fan in me so I kept reading.

Using this contraption they identify two concepts: Zapp and Sapp.
The remainder of the book is spent figuring out what zapps, what sapps, how to zapp, and how to avoid sapping. The approach shows what is being done incorrectly then suggests an alternative approach to turn sapp into zapp. Useful at reinforcing those common sense messages.

Zapping is a 4 step process as follows:
1. Maintain or enhance self-esteem
2. Listen and respond with empathy
3. Share thoughts, feelings, and rationale
4. Ask for help and encourage involvement (Seek ideas, suggestions, and information)

These help you achieve the soul of zapp which is 'providing support without removing responsibility for action.'

The book goes on to reinforce the importance of support, feedback, coaching, and delegation. In many ways it made me think of the podcasts from Manager Tools which espouse the same key messages about changing behaviour to achieve results. Nip down to your local library or pick up a copy from Amazon - it's worth an evening of your time :)