As the leader, you are ultimately responsible for your team's attainment of set goals. You are also accountable for any failure of your team to hit their goals. That is a lot of pressure sitting on your shoulders.
In response to this pressure, you may instinctively micromanage your team instead of empowering them.
Controlling every aspect of your team's fulfillment of their job tasks may make you feel like you are being responsible by helping make sure they stay on task.
You may think that by providing step-by-step directions for every job task they complete that you are helping.
By ensuring that they complete each task exactly the way that it should be done, you guarantee your success in meeting team targets. Right?
Employees who are provided with the end goal AND the leeway to determine how best to attain the end goal are far more productive.
By micromanaging every component of the workday you limit the creativity and the discretionary effort of your employees.
Empowering Means Being Respectful
As adults, we expect to be respected. Your team will give more effort toward the completion of their responsibilities if they feel respected and trusted.
In a team member's mind, micromanagement translates as:
- a lack of respect - the boss doesn't treat me like I am an adult
- a lack of trust - the boss doesn't trust me to do what has been asked of me
- a lack of confidence in the ability of the individual - if the boss thought I was capable, s/he would not be watching over my shoulder.
In a toxic work culture, where micromanagement becomes the norm, team members will often give only minimal effort, doing only what is absolutely necessary to keep their jobs.
Studies have, in fact, revealed that employees who work in a toxic workplace will purposely reduce their efforts or intentionally spend less time at work.
Their passion for their job and their ability to creatively problem-solve is limited by fear. The fear of having someone watching every movement you make is stifling and it leads to resentment because workers feel neither respected nor trusted.
| The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.
Empowering Means Focusing on Outcomes, Not Process
To guide your team to success, you must focus on identifying the OUTCOME that is required for your team to meet your goals. In leading your team, you must also provide them with the support they need to achieve that outcome. Support can be anything that they need to do their job, such as software, equipment or workspace.
Then you let your team do the work. Your job is to protect their time, make sure they have the proper tools, be a thought partner when they get stuck, hook them up with training when they need it, coach them to help them grow and stretch their work skills.
Your job is not to babysit your team and watch them every moment while they try to work. Even if they are expected to follow a necessary process from start to finish, you must trust your team enough to take a step back.
It is not a financially sound practice to hire a worker to complete specific tasks and then to hire a boss to stand and watch (or worse help) that worker complete the task.
That’s two salaries, completing one task. See the problem?
If you want your team to go over and above and to give to you and your organization their discretionary effort, passion, and dedication, then you must do your part. You must trust them to do their jobs, provide support as needed, and focus on measuring outcomes, not the process.
Empowering Means Accountability, Not Micromanagement
Providing accountability for the team in the form of a cheerful face checking in on progress toward the agreed-upon goal feels very different than a scowling face who insists on knowing every step of every job task.
Asking, "how are things going on your project? Is there anything I can do to help you? Anything that is slowing you down that we can talk through and problem solve?" accomplishes much more than negativity and micromanagement.
Accusingly checking in with, "what is going on with your project?! I looked through your files while you were at lunch and it looks like you haven't even started work on updating that new spreadsheet!" only slows the positive movement and progress of your team.
Your job is to provide training for all employees as needed, making certain that each team member has the requisite skills and knowledge to perform their job function.
From that point, you should focus on encouraging creativity and developing the professional judgment of your team. That is what will result in the attainment of your team's goals.
Empowering Means Support, Not Punishment
Now, if the outcome produced does not meet your expectations, then talk to your team member and find out why.
Presume first that the team member did try to achieve the outcome (and not that they intentionally missed the target). With a positive spirit of helpfulness, ask questions that help you understand what the team member was missing.
Was it some type of support that you missed providing, training on part of the project, or was did the employee have an unclear understanding of the goal? Focusing on punishing your team member instead of helping the team member grow and develop puts your workplace and team at risk for a toxic culture.
If your team member continually performs poorly and does not respond to coaching and training, then you may need to consider other options, such as placement in another department that better aligns with the employee’s strengths or developing a formal improvement plan with specific targets, action steps to improve performance and timeline for improvement.
But, remember a formal plan, if needed, is the last step and not the first. All support for employees should be engaged in with the intent to help the employee perform in alignment with company expectations.
Leading in a controlling manner will result in minimum outputs from your team and reduced levels of quality outcomes.
Employees who feel respected and valued will happily engage in work and, if supported, will be far more likely to exceed set goals.
Empower your team.
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