Want to unlock the full potential of your team and improve job satisfaction? Below are four simple things you can do to empower your team without micromanaging. Effective managers know how to get the best work from each of the members of the team.
In this post, I will pull back the curtain and share some best practices to help your team develop new skills, accomplish company goals, and improve work relationships along the way.
I recently had a conversation with a client who wanted help with employee turnover. And it’s interesting how they all seem to go right to their screening process as if the problem lies solely in finding the right people with no plan for actually keeping them.
Want to know the best way to increase the self-esteem and confidence of your team members? The best way doesn’t really involve your subordinates’ activities. In fact, learning effective management skills is the key. You want to lay down clear expectations. You also want to exhibit positive behavior that will produce positive results in a positive work environment.
The good news is that when you have this equation figured out, your business will thank you. You will have also mastered the concepts necessary to be the most effective manager.
Here is a simple four-step process to empower your team without having to micromanage them.
Empower without Micromanaging: 4 Simple Steps to Empower Your Team.
- Be a Coach Who Gives Positive Feedback Versus a Micromanager Who Gives Constructive Criticism.
- To Empower Your Team Members, Give Them the Outcome You Expect, Not a Task List.
- If You Want to Empower Without Micromanaging, Be Flexible.
- Proper Role Placement for Your Team Members Is Important to Empower without Micromanaging.
I get it! You want the job done right. And YOU had to jump the hurdles and win the race to reach the top. Obviously, you know that your way works. So WHY change? Why on Earth would you let your team try it differently? Why would you want them to recreate your perfectly constructed, tried, and true functioning wheel?
The answer is simple. If you don’t let them recreate the wheel, you will likely, instead, find yourself recreating that perfectly constructed TEAM. All that time training the perfect team will go to waste when your team feels micromanaged. Eventually, the team will leave. They will look for a manager who doesn’t create a toxic work environment a lack of trust.
You want your team to feel valued as independent, capable, and trusted members of your organization.
So what’s the first step to help your team function without micro-managing them and creating employee turnover?
Empowering your team starts with learning effective management skills that instantly boost their confidence, world productivity, and self-esteem in a positive work environment.
My grandmother gave me some advice when my oldest son was very young. She said to stop remaking his bed. “He already did it. Same for the dishes. He loaded them. Stop redoing what he has done because if he sees you, he will know his way wasn’t good enough.” (I miss you, Jimmie…)
Building trust with your team will build a strong workplace environment. This environment is the cornerstone for creating a positive team culture.
Be a Coach Who Gives Positive Feedback Versus a Micromanager Who Gives Constructive Criticism.
Today’s micromanagers tend to give assignments without any feedback at all until it is too late. Then, they tend to be overly critical when the result is less than they expected. They also tend to focus on day-to-day tasks instead of the bigger picture. Employees end up not the vision for the future.
However, a good coach creates positive feedback sessions during the learning process. Instead of just focusing on the specific task, the coach focuses on the desired outcomes. This is a better way because it instills a sense of ownership for the employee when she accomplishes the outcome. Employee engagement soars. Employees feel like the are a part of the solution (not part of the problem.)
“Authority—when abused through micromanagement, intimidation, or verbal or nonverbal threats—makes people shut down & productivity ceases.” ― John Stoker, Overcoming Fake Talk: How to Hold Real Conversations That Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results.
An extreme need for authority and control discourages free thinking, which stifles creativity. And without room to create new ideas, team members do not feel like part of a team, and as humans, we want to belong and contribute and feel like our two cents matter.
We have a warm and inviting seating area in the space right outside my office. This is a place where we can all gather and chat and exchange ideas. As an extreme extrovert, I welcome any opportunity to wargame and strategize because I learn new perspectives. Even our administrative assistants feel compelled to chime in and express their opinions because they are valued, and we appreciate their contributing efforts toward our success as a company.
To Empower without Micromanaging, Avoid Redoing the Work of Your Team.
When leaders get too involved with their employees’ work, the employees start to feel discouraged. This leads to being unproductive. If you have ever dealt with a micromanager, you know how defeating it feels when your work is redone, as if your time and efforts were futile. What’s the point in giving 100% when you know it isn’t good enough before you even turn it in?
Many moons ago, I had the boring task of keeping inventory for a movie theater. Each manager rotated throughout the four different management roles (HR, Finance, Facilities, and Production) quarterly. So by the one-year mark, we could effectively stand in for the GM when necessary.
We were always so bewildered when the GM would come behind every single one of us to check our work. He was always cranky and short-tempered. And I honestly can probably count on one hand how many times I saw the guy smile. And it makes sense! He was responsible for the day-to-day operations of a 16-screen movie theater. And he spent his “free time” doing the same jobs he delegated to assistant managers to handle.
I hated that job. But I firmly believe that it wouldn’t have been so bad had my boss didn’t have trust issues with us.
To do this to one subordinate means you should probably find the right role for that person. But what if you do it to all of them? That spells your inability to relinquish control and trust that the people to whom you delegated the work will deliver positive results.
To Empower Your Team Members, Give Them the Outcome You Expect, Not a Task List.
Giving your team members the outcome vs. a task list casts a vision that everyone can see and allows them to contribute to the overall success of the goal. More importantly, setting the expectations for how to get there places the ball in their court, which frees you up as the leader to move on to other areas that need your attention.
One of the most important types of communication between managers and their direct reports is setting expectations. An expectation describes an important task that requires a positive response from the person it is delegated to. Have you ever delivered an expectation that was not well received? You should strive to give them something that they enjoy doing. But we will come back to that point in a bit.
When managers don’t know how to communicate what they want, taking on the work themselves is simpler and easier. This is not your job, though! You didn’t delegate the task to yourself. Have you ever been guilty of this? How did it turn out?
How I learned this Management Tip the Hard Way.
Many years ago, I had a hard discussion with a lady who worked for me. By the way, I still give her credit for helping shape my management style early on.
After performance reviews, I always liked to allow my team members to give me feedback on my performance. But this time, my new assistant shocked me.
She said, “Amy, please be less rigid — less formal. I mean, I want you to be willing to bend when needed. Show more emotion in your professionalism. I don’t need a checklist every week.”
She went on to explain that I didn’t seem to trust her.
It was like a gut punch. I thought my process was fair and thorough. I thought I was being smart. However, I was not working smarter; I was working harder. Without realizing it, I was creating a hostile environment..
If your team members do not complete a task on time and correctly, that is on YOU. Read that again. It’s on YOU because you neglected to set the expectations appropriately at the start. And without clearly defined expectations, how can they be held accountable?
Create Clear Communication of Your Expectations, And There Is No Need to Micromanage.
Effective leaders have a responsibility to clearly communicate their expectations. Does your team understand what you want them to do? Do they know what the deadline is? Have they repeated this back to you? If you have their buy-in, and they are committed to the task, step back, afford them ownership, and trust them to do their job.
One of the most important skills a manager can develop is setting and communicating clearly defined expectations. And part of understanding an expectation requires focusing on two areas: getting a positive response and acknowledging that it’s not yours to carry out.
Having this skill will allow you to do the following:
- Avoid pitfalls that lead to miscommunication.
- Create an environment in which everyone thrives and feels successful.
- Complete important tasks on time and within budget.
- Empowering direct reports
You want to set new expectations anytime the following occurs. Something new is created. Processes or policies change. Your team is under extreme or pressing circumstances. Or just when something isn’t working properly.
Next, do your homework to ensure it’s worth assigning the task. Ask yourself these questions: Is it practical? Is it a good use of time and talent? Does this mirror my words and actions? Is there an equal opportunity for all involved? Are they capable of completing the tasks?
Let’s say an office has two administrative assistants, and one resigns to take on a different role. They had two separate workloads with different duties. The boss might decide to purchase new software to automate some of those processes. However, if the boss doesn’t communicate these new expectations, the remaining employee may feel like she has to take on both roles.
Because of the communication breakdown, the remaining assistant does twice the work and begins to burn out.
If You Want to Empower Without Micromanaging, Be Flexible.
Being flexible is one of the key components of projecting employee empowerment. This lets you show that your management style allows new approaches. It also proves that you are willing to go the extra mile to reach your end goal.
A fixed mindset will always stick to tried and true for fear of failure. Leaders who are unwilling to take a risk on new ideas are viewed as unapproachable and even outdated.
For example, I used to work for a company that resisted the urge to go paperless. Management received ongoing complaints from employees about how much paper we were wasting. The employees also explained how it would free up physical space in the office. For instance, there would be no need for a records closet. In addition, important files wouldn’t get lost in transit or misplaced.
However, the C-suite was set in their ways. They didn’t trust digital storage. One of the team members decided to use a little showmanship to explain, though. She presented the executive team was presented with the numbers that showed how much they were spending on ink and paper. And we all know that numbers don’t lie. Oh, the joy when they announced the change to paperless! But it wasn’t just the paperless thing. We all felt compelled to start bringing more things to the table. Sometimes, it was a yes, and others a big fat no, but we felt valued and heard as a part of the organization, and it really opened up the lines of communication in the office.
Proper Role Placement for Your Team Members Is Important to Empower without Micromanaging.
Proper role placement is critical to ensuring the success of your team’s goals. I just finished reading The 6 Types of Working Genius by Patrick Lencioni. In the book, he delves into helping your team members identify the type of work that brings them joy and energizes them. The goal is to try to avoid the inevitable burnout because they are frustrated with their role(s).
It’s a unique model that really cuts to the meat and potatoes of creating the perfect team that can function without feeling like you need to oversee everything. It might work out great if you, as the leader, like to be the galvanizer, and constantly inspiring and motivating everyone is how you like to spend your time.
However, if that’s not one of your working geniuses and say being creative is, then you could actually start to resent having to take a pause from your passion to “have to” rally the troops. In a situation like this, the leader would want to bring someone else into that galvanizing role that A) loves that kind of work and B) produces the results necessary so that you can focus on your working genius or being creative and coming up with new ideas.
If You Have the Right Person in the Wrong Role, Neither of You Will Be Happy.
“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” – Patrick Lencioni
After reading, I immediately thought of my former nail technician, Danh. While I miss her very much, I can’t help of smile when I think about her brave decision to leave the salon.
Danh always looked very sad when I would see her finishing up with other clients. Our time, though, was always spent chatting away about life. She always wanted to know about my job because she said I seemed so happy when discussing work.
One day, I asked her if she liked her job. Her face said it all. Danh began to talk about her aspirations to help create new designs and artwork. She’d always wanted to be a “real artist.” The more she talked, the more she smiled.
But when her eyes would go back to actually doing the nails, she would bow her head a little. Her smile would immediately disappear. Noticing this, I encouraged her to take a risk and go after her dream.
That was the last time I saw my amazing, brave, tenacious nail technician. I’d love to think that my little pep talk had something to do with it. But really, she just needed to realize that she wasn’t in the right place. She needed to find a company that would allow her to do more than just file and sculpt nails.
Build a Team of Great Talent and Utilize their Gifts!
So, while you can have a great team of talent, you have to be mindful of utilizing their gifts in the proper roles:
- Inquire about the person’s favorite past work environment.
- Do they emulate the company’s office culture and have common goals?
- Do they have a growth mindset?
Years ago, we hired a new accountant to run the books. However, it immediately became clear that we had probably made a hiring mistake. The new accountant spent thirty minutes of each hour in the lobby stretching her back and claiming that sitting was bad for her blood flow. To fix this, we provided her with a standing desk. This helped, but she was still out of her office more than in it.
Next, she began relocating plants from her home into her office. When she ran out of space, she added more plants to the lobby. Of course, she also had to make frequent trips to the lobby, now, so the plants could hear her talking to them.
She also had a rigorous juicing schedule. This prevented her from meeting and doing tasks during three time periods each workday.
As these conflicts and distractions mounted up, we eventually had to terminate her. We should have asked more questions during the interview process. We could have avoided the entire re-hiring and training process if we had.
So, If You Want to Empower without Micromanaging, Follow this Simple Four-Step Process.
Creating a great team with synergy takes time to get moving in the right direction, but it doesn’t have to be hard work! And once you get that perfectly constructed team wheel, you want to keep it! Empowering your team goes a long way and starts with learning effective management and leadership skills that instantly boost their confidence and self-esteem.
When employees feel valued, trusted, included, and heard, production and efficiency will soar! Building trust with your team will build a strong workplace environment which is the cornerstone for creating a positive team culture that focuses on growth, gives them a clear outcome, provides flexibility, and ensures proper role placement.
Amy Maybury is a Consultant and Senior Instructor for The Leaders Institute ®. She is based in Dallas/Ft Worth but teaches throughout the US, Mexico, and Canada.