Originally published in HRLaws
With many competing actions and objectives in any organization, we are often inundated with tasks and new initiatives that seem to go on forever. If you have ever been in three meetings at once, driven to your next appointment while responding to phone calls, or spent your weekend answering emails that you were finally able to get to, you are not alone. The amount that we need to accomplish in one week has become impossible and there never seems to be a break. The question is not “how do I reduce my meetings” but “how do I let my team lead”. The goal being to maximize the potential of those on the team to better optimize your time and efficiency. It is important to understand how you got here and where you may be contributing to your own chaos.
Consider Letting go: Take yourself out of every conversation, which can create a bottleneck for decision-making. If this gives you anxiety, ask yourself why. Is it fear of what may happen or is it lack of trust for those completing the work? Either way, the bottlenecks still exist and you are slowing progress of decision-making. When you understand the “why” behind it, you can begin to work toward a resolution.
If it is fear of losing control or being accountable for bad decisions, perhaps there are some development opportunities for your direct reports. This may be the time to put them to the test and see what they are capable of without your wisdom or intervention. If its trust that’s keeping you close to every decision, then there may be bigger issues to deal with. You may need to further determine the root cause and where it originated. You may discover that it’s not as big of an issue as your mind was holding onto, or you may need to have frank conversations about why the trust is broken. Try to establish an agreement of how to repair it, which may include some give and take for both parties until the trust is re-established.
Establish a Power of Authority: Be clear with your team on what is in their purview. If you haven’t had, a chance to consider this then now is a good time. What budgetary line items and thresholds can be set without the need for your approval? Which type of performance issues can they respond to without your guidance? Which action items require your review and which can they take and move forward as needed? Determine who can participate in meetings on your behalf and what can they react or respond to in your absence. Be clear on where these lines fall but also be flexible and realize the most efficient use of your time is through these capable team members.
Consider your end goal: Is the goal to have a team of highly productive, strategic thinkers with a great level of business acumen or is your goal to have a team of hesitant, sedentary and safe thinkers that are afraid to think outside of the box and go with their gut instinct. Of course, we are all striving for that first option but over time even great leaders can end up with the label of “micromanager”. Our jobs come with a great responsibility and naturally, we will have a level of fear and doubt, but we cannot let that control the ability to develop our people into great leaders! Let your intent be to develop and not control. Be the provider of good thought and perspective and let them take it from there. You can always assist with course correction and thought feedback as needed but put it back on them to come up with the way forward and the solutions within their span of control!
Create simple yet transparent check-ins: Have your team create clear goals and action items that you both can review and agree upon. Have these saved in a shared space so you can see updates and progress that has been made. Having visual access to these milestones at the tip of your fingers will help reduce the anxiety of the unknown. This also helps guide good conversation and make the most of the time you’re spending together in one on one meetings. Instead of immediately offering your thoughts and feedback a good place to start is “what do you need from me”, or “where can I be helpful”. Strategic thinkers will come to the table with their thoughts, ideas, and what they need from you whether it be your perspective or your blessing.
Let the team lead in front to allow them an opportunity to maximize their potential! Being consistent with these actions can minimize some of the extra pressure and anxiety that has built up while optimizing your time to be strategic and forward thinking.
Jamie Bialowitz is an organizational development professional with focus on leadership development and change management.Jamie has led and consulted organizations in HR functions supporting talent development, employee engagement and strategic organizational planning.