With organizations engaged in many competing actions and objectives, we’re often inundated with tasks and new initiatives that seem to go on forever. If you’ve ever been in three meetings at once, driven to your next appointment while responding to phone calls, or spent your weekend answering e-mails, you aren’t alone.
The amount of work we need to accomplish in a single week has become impossible, and there never seems to be a break. The question isn’t “How do I reduce my meetings?” but rather “How do I let my team lead?” Your goal should be to maximize the potential of the team to better optimize your own time and efficiency.
Read on to learn how you got here and understand the ways in which you may be contributing to your own chaos.
Consider Letting Go
Take yourself out of every conversation, which can create a decision-making bottleneck. If taking a back seat gives you anxiety, ask yourself why. Is it fear of what may happen, or is it a lack of trust for those completing the work? Either way, the bottlenecks exist, and you’re slowing the team’s progress. When you understand the “why” behind it, you can begin to work toward a resolution:
- If you fear losing control or being accountable for the ensuing bad decisions, consider some development opportunities for your direct reports. It may be time to put them to the test and see what they’re capable of without your wisdom or intervention.
- If it’s trust keeping you close to every decision, then you may need to determine the root cause and where it originated. You may discover 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 about how to repair it, which may include some give-and-take for both parties until the trust is reestablished.
Establish a Power of Authority
Be clear with your team on what’s in their purview. What budgetary line items and thresholds can they 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 the lines fall, but also be flexible and realize the most efficient use of your time is through the 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 are you looking for a group of hesitant, sedentary, and safe thinkers who are afraid to imagine outside of the box and go with their gut instinct? Of course, we’re all striving for the first option, but over time even great leaders can end up with the label of “micromanager.”
Our jobs come with great responsibility, and naturally we’ll have a level of fear and doubt, but you can’t let it control the ability to develop your people into great leaders! Let your intentions be to develop and not control.
Provide 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
Ask your team to create clear goals and action items you both can review and agree upon. Save the goals in a shared space so you can see updates and progress that has been made. Having visual access to the milestones at the tip of your fingers will help reduce the anxiety of the unknown.
Having concrete targets also helps to 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, you may find a good place to start is asking, “What do you need from me?” or “Where can I be helpful?” Strategic thinkers will come to the table with thoughts, ideas, and notes about what they need from you, whether it be your perspective or your blessing.
Let your team lead and have an opportunity to maximize their potential! Being consistent with your 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 at PerformancePoint LLC, with a focus on leadership development and change management. Bialowitz has led and consulted organizations in HR functions supporting talent development, employee engagement, and strategic organizational planning. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.