Managers make hundreds of important decisions every week, but none will ever be more important than the decision you reach regarding this vital question: Are you going to spend your day doing everyone else’s work for them, or will you spend it training and motivating them to do it for themselves?
For those who choose the latter path, this article may help you get started.
Most good managers feel personally responsible for the success of their teams. And a team’s continuing ability to get projects completed on time and within budget reflects directly on that manager’s abilities. With failure not an option, the path of least resistance is to do the work yourself, rather than take the time to explain how to do it to someone who may be less qualified than you, or less committed to the team’s success.
Training your team is going to be very hard work. And it can even be a little intimidating having all those folks looking to you for directions and solutions. But if you’re one of those individuals who have been promoted through the ranks, you probably do know a lot more about doing everyone else’s job. And maybe you know more about those jobs than you do about your own. So it is very tempting, and very easy, to just slide back into the old routine.
In fact, if you’re new to management, you may have even tried the approach to training where you take one of the new people with you and let them watch you while you do their job. Chances are that really didn’t work out the way you hoped.
People don’t learn by watching. People learn by doing – once they’ve received the proper training. The smart manager finds a way to let go and let the team do their jobs. Your team is not going to learn and grow and hit their peak level of productivity until you stop doing their work and become highly effective at doing yours.
Here are 5 simple strategies for accomplishing the job you were hired to do:
1. Start out by simply accepting the fact that your job is to train others to do what you have been doing. The organization doesn’t want you to do the work of three people; the organization needs those three people to work at full capacity, while you help them become successful. Your job is to get your people up to speed. Once you get the hang of this, the productivity of your team is going to skyrocket.
2. Implement a hands-off strategy. Once you give everyone their assignments and the training to prepare them for success, back off and leave them alone. Depending on their level of expertise, you may not want to assign a full set of tasks immediately. However, once you have made an assignment, the successful manager will get out of the way and let the responsible team member do the work. Train them, explain your expectations to them, and then step back.
3. Inspect and correct (kindly). People need accountability and feedback. Praise them for what worked well; make suggestions for what to improve. If something needs to be redone, let them redo it. It may slow you down today, but in the long run you’ll be ahead.
4. Let them know that it’s okay to make mistakes and even fail, as long as they learn from it and do better next time. Tell them of some of your early mistakes, and let them know that they’re in a safe learning and working environment. Tell them that you trust them and that you will back them all the way.
5. Now that you’ve freed your time up a bit, begin reworking the big picture for your team. How can you improve training, communication and performance? What are you going to cover at your next team meeting? What are you going to do to recognize outstanding performance? What can you do to help the team member who is still struggling a little?
This decision to train and motivate your team to do the work is going to be one of the most important decisions you have to make in this New Year. Do you have the courage?