Step back and see if it isn't time to take the training wheels off
Organization and success are thought to go hand in hand. As leaders, we are expected to have systems for systems and protocols for protocols. Companies have spent years (not to mention thousands of dollars) implementing foolproof structures.
There’s a tendency to strive for a black-or-white method of operating. From profits and margins to product launches, we like to have concrete ways of doing things. When things are gray, they become questionable and therefore more susceptible to error.
This attitude also extends to job roles. Each person is assigned responsibilities, knows their expectations and follows the rules. Guidance is thought to be an integral component to managing people. The simpler we make things for employees, the happier they’ll be, right?
In an effort to attract top talent and increase employee retention, we tend to make things too easy. But in reality, the majority of professionals crave challenge. They want to be problem solvers rather than to sit back and coast.
This doesn’t mean we give them more work; it means we give them meaningful work. Then we get out of their way. Otherwise, employees become bored, unengaged and ready to move on. What comes next is a company that stops churning out innovative work and becomes stagnant.
Relinquish control and learn to trust
There are different ways to micromanage, some more subtle than others. Constantly checking up on work, keeping tabs on employees and reading over their shoulder every hour of the day to make sure they’re doing a good job are the more well-known attributes of this toxic term.
Then there’s creating roles that are so streamlined that the position offers little autonomy and creative freedom. This sense of control may seem to reduce the pressure and stress on both the employee and management, but it actually has the opposite effect.
When employees are not empowered to make their own decisions, manage projects and act independently, they don’t feel trusted, and so will no longer invest in the company. It’s time to let go of the leash and allow them to develop a style all their own, no matter how different from yours it may be.
The struggle is real (and that’s okay)
There are two types of people in this world: those who face challenges head on, and those who run the other way. To remain a growing business and gain the competitive edge in the market, what kind of employee would you want working for you?
Some clients are harder to deal with than others. Some projects require extra hours of research and execution. When these situations arise, it’s tempting to either take this on yourself or leave it to someone with experience who can easily handle the challenge.
But think about passing it on to someone who is eager and passionate to learn more. It’s okay to let your staff feel uncomfortable. That’s how they grow. Remember all those struggles, failures and hurdles you had to overcome to get to where you are today?
No one’s suggesting you throw the employee to the wolves and hope for the best. Be there along the way to offer guidance and ensure they have the resources to get the job done. Otherwise, step back and let them figure it out. It’s time to take the training wheels off.
Making mistakes is a good thing
At some point, someone’s going to screw up. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s essential.
Mistakes are a part of growth. Not only does it teach valuable lessons, it also reveals gaps you need to fill as a company and as a leader. When you create an environment in which employees are empowered to act autonomously, you’re setting the stage for real innovation and growth for the company as a whole.
If and when mistakes happen, don’t rush to the rescue. Let them figure out the solution, and ensure that they fix it. They have to be accountable. If they have to pick up the pieces and put them back together, you’re pretty well guaranteed they’ll never repeat that mistake again.