Whether you’re running an international business or working on a solo project in your home office, I’m positive that you can get more done while growing your team with better delegating.
That said, delegating will always be easier for mid-to-large-sized companies. And there isn’t much of a trick to it; you just have to empower your employees and check in regularly. Without commenting on his policies, Reagan’s “trust but verify” is particularly relevant here.
Tell your employees what they’re responsible for, the parameters of how you expect them to accomplish those goals, then direct them to the big red “I’m Stuck” button that they can press if they need to. That doesn’t mean they need to bother you with little choices, but they should ask for help when they’re deadlocked.
Then you leave them to it.
A noobie might need check-ins, so just make sure you’re keeping an eye on the most important parts of their work. Provided you’re not constantly looking over their shoulder, this is a great time to get feedback on your processes.
Once they’re more acclimated to the role, check in less often, but remind them about the big red “Stuck” button.
When you’re setting up a delegating culture, make sure that everyone is following the model above. Nobody should be checking with someone three layers below them; otherwise your most important players are wasting time verifying work all day.
Things are a little different for solo enterprises, but there are still tasks you can delegate.
If you’re tired of wasting time managing your books, outsource that work to your accountant. If you’re sick of managing your marketing, talk to an agency. You’d be amazed how much time and work you can save with a $500 monthly expenditure.
You don’t need a team to hand off your work, and these same delegating principles can free you up to focus on what you’re good at.
That’s really it; trust your people to do their jobs, check in occasionally, and mostly, just get out of people’s way. You brought them on for a reason, and if you’re really not sure that they can do their jobs, then you probably have the wrong people.
We all like to think of ourselves as great managers, but there are many disgruntled employees who might not agree. Even if you give a sincere, concentrated effort toward being a great manager, you still might fall short. If you feel like your efforts aren’t matching your managerial output, this is for you.
Gone are the days of the 1950s executive who shouts at employees and whips them into shape. Overwhelmingly, employees want to like their bosses. One of the best management examples in my career is the worst boss I ever had—berating, intimidating, belittling people in front of others. Any time I need a check on how I’m managing, I compare to him and make sure there is NOTHING similar in my approach.
Instead of criticizing your next employee who makes a mistake, try highlighting another employee who’s performing well. If you think that you have to berate your employees to get results, then the issue is that you’ve hired the wrong people.
Generally, people will appreciate it when the boss jumps in to help out. However, they’re far less likely to appreciate the boss jumping in to micromanage. When giving feedback to your employees, take a moment to consider: Is this helpful, or am I getting in the way? I sometimes go so far as to just ask this question directly, and often the answer is productive in building a relationship with that person.
If you find that you’re accidentally micromanaging, try to take a few steps back. Give your employees clear guidelines, then let them work toward your goals in their own ways. Oftentimes, I find that this gives me happier employees and much better results.
It isn’t all about people who nitpick or yell, though. Complacent leaders can be just as ineffective as overbearing ones. While it’s nice to imagine yourself as the cool, laid-back boss, you could be in real danger of becoming a boss who ignores major issues.
Consider what “laid-back” means to you. Are you giving employees space to work, or are you failing to set clear guidelines? Do you encourage employees to be active problem solvers, or do you leave problems for others to solve? Be very careful that you don’t cross the line from “relaxed” to “negligent.”
Very rarely is someone naturally a “perfect” manager. We all make mistakes, learn from them, and adjust. If you’re falling into any of these common managerial pitfalls, it doesn’t make you a bad boss. It just means that you need to start looking for solutions.