If you typically find yourself being the “answer person” for all things great and small, it’s time to change. Micromanaging is unproductive and builds barriers to employee growth and development. Good leaders empower their employees by driving decision-making down into their organization. They also make empowerment more potent by recognizing employees’ contributions. Follow this lead, and you’ll infuse your workplace culture with newfound energy and ownership, reinforcing that crucial message that you both trust and value your employees.
How can you do this?
Let go of control. Micromanagers are actually insecure leaders “undercover.” They’re “control freaks” who, deep down, fear losing control for any number of reasons. They guard information like it’s a pot of gold, meddle in anything and everything, and hold and play all the company cards. People can’t stand working with these often defensive, secretive and meddlesome types of leaders. And interestingly, the more talented and skilled a workforce is, the more struggle and resentment there will be between those direct reports and their leader. The opposite of the micromanager is the boss who demands that his employees bring two solutions to the table every time they have a problem and recognizes when their solutions are successful. They’ve let go of the need to control everyone and everything, and actually empower and inspire employees to take matters into their control.
Work on the business, not in the business. You can’t be both a leader and a worker-bee for your company. You have to choose one or the other — and I’m willing to bet you don’t want to turn over the company hive to someone else that you’ve hired. So the sooner you make that choice and take command of what you’ve built, the better. It’s what others, particularly your direct reports, expect of you. And it’s really the role you’ve created for yourself, whether it was intentional or not. As you empower those you’ve hired, relax and let yourself rely on them to take ownership in their growth and development. If they do not, consider whether you’ve hired the right people in the right positions — but only after you’ve seriously put them to the test. Give people a chance to prove themselves if you’re transitioning from being a highly controlling to a more empowering type of leader.
Give your front-line employees “the power,” too. All too often, those working on the front lines of customer service aren’t allowed to make decisions on their own or “call the shots” with the customers they interact with each and every day. True, you need certain policies and procedures to keep a business running efficiently and profitably, but it can be far more productive to give that front-line employee the ability to make a decision about a customer situation or problem within certain perimeters, rather than have them field the problem and pass it on. That latter scenario creates nothing but frustration all around, and can actually cost your company more in terms of poor productivity and disgruntled customers.
Can you ever empower an employee too much?