A Simple Insight to Help You Be a Better Manager
Content was originally published on Inc.com on December 8, 2016.
Ron, a business coaching client for roughly a year now, had done something remarkable. He’d built a thriving 8-figure business that dominated his niche.
But he recognized that he struggled at time being a manager. For him, he tended to undermanage his people. “After all David,” he’d say, “I don’t need someone telling me what to do and how to do it. I know what to do and just need the room to do it. I don’t want to crowd my people.”
What Ron came to realize over the first year of working together was that many of his people not only needed closer management, but craved the clarity and support it brought them.
There is a management spectrum with the “micromanager” on one end, and the “abdicator” on the other. What I want to convince you of in this article is that you need to be somewhere in the middle.
We’ve all seen it, the business leader who hovers over his or her direct reports smothering them with a real time barrage of corrections and “suggestions.” The result is a frustrated and impotent team who grow to become dependent on that leader to direct their daily actions.
When you hand off a task, project, or ongoing responsibility to a team member, I suggest you give them:
a) A clear picture of what success looks like, and why it matters to your company.
b) The resources they’ll need to get the job done (budget, team, and/or tools).
c) A clear picture of how and when you want them to report on progress and results to you (including what status would require you to get involved again).
d) And the authority and responsibility to get the necessary job done.
If you’ve done this, then you have to let them get on with the job.
Remember, while you may have a suggestion that could improve things by 10 percent, you’ll lower their sense of ownership and learning by 50 percent or more if you aren’t careful how you share it. There is a time and a place to direct or coach your team. Pick your moments wisely. When in doubt, let the “suggestion” go, it likely won’t help.
The opposite of the micromanager is the abdicator. The abdicator is the manager who dumps a task or project on a team member’s plate then walks away, leaving them to figure it out by themselves.
While many times a talented team member will be able to handle this, the real problem is that most business leaders who abdicate don’t give their staff member a clean handoff.
Often they don’t clarify expectations (of outcome, of reporting, of authority, etc.) and then they rush in when they job isn’t done right to ZAP the staff member.
I’ve met many business leaders who actually want their team members to fail (although they don’t see this about themselves) because it allows them to feel better about themselves as they step in to “correct” the behavior. They would rather be proven right then to give the help to their team member and help them succeed.
One Last Thought to Help You Be a Better Manager
Your team is made of individuals, each with their own dreams, ambitions, hopes, likes, and dislikes. As a leader you need to learn from them what matters most to them. How do they want to be managed? What do they consider an emotional bank account deposit? What do they consider withdrawal? What inspires them? What degrades or deadens them?
I personally keep a 4×6 index card listing the key insights I’ve learned about managing my key team members, and I review these index cards each week. Does this take time and effort? Of course, by your team is worth it, and the return on investment is high. Be careful that in your rush for efficiency you don’t hurt your relationship with your key team.
There is an old cliché with a lot of truth to it: With people, fast is slow and slow is fast.
Sometimes the most effective thing you can do is to slow down and spend a little more time with your team instead of rushing them out the door so they can get back to work.
If you enjoyed the ideas I shared, then I encourage you to download a free copy of my newest book, Build a Business, Not a Job. Click here for full details and to get your complimentary copy.