Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Tool #97) Clearing Boulders and Pebbles

Clearing Boulders and Pebbles is my main job as mentor.  After I instruct each individual on the importance of their position, I tell them how badly I want them to be successful.  I then help them understand that I realize the only way for me to be successful is for them to be successful – “I succeed only if you succeed.”

Part of helping them be successful is to clear all the boulders and even the pebbles from their path.  If they stumble, I stumble.  If they scrape their knee, I bleed too.  They must know and believe that they can count on me for assistance in fulfilling their vision.

It’s my job to look for Boulders and Pebbles that get in their way.  This includes anything that slows, hinders, impedes, prevents, blocks, or causes them to stumble in the successful completion of their tasks.


Boulder – suppliers are not delivering material to the worksite when scheduled, causing deadline delays, idle work crews, and extremely unhappy customers.

Pebble – the office copy machine jams when running on the second tray.  When the first tray empties, the machine jams, must be cleared, the first tray filled and reset, and the copy job reprogrammed.

It’s my job to make these problems “go away” for my employees.  I need to be vigilant in observing my workplace, but I also need my employees’ help.  They need to be comfortable in coming to me with problems and confident that these problems will be attended to immediately.  Therefore, it’s also important I train them to come to me.

A simple thing like putting up with a poorly functioning copy machine causes unneeded delays, employee stress, and even confrontation.  It’s amazing what employees will tolerate, won’t even mention to management, will grumble about among themselves, and then use as an excuse when behind in their work.

In clearing Boulders and Pebbles, I, as mentor, must also “look for the wall” that keeps a person from growing.  What’s the difference between a two-hundred thousand dollar a year rep and a million dollar a year rep?  Simple, only himself.

Often, a sales rep will work and work and grow to a level they never before saw themselves at, and then they plateau.  They no sooner leap over one barrier before they set up another.

They accept their new height as the limit and settle.  This new limit after awhile then becomes their new mediocrity.


Write three Boulders and three Pebbles your office has recently experienced, what effect they’ve had on your workplace, and what might be done to make them “go away.”

– excerpt from “The Manager’s Toolbox”


March 8, 2011 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Employee Coaching, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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