Often in our zeal to help our employee associates to deliver results successfully, we will go too far. Rather than just provide details about what success will look like, sometimes we get into the weeds and tell them HOW and describe what WE would do, step by step. In my book, that is a mistake.
I believe that great managers and virtuoso leaders believe the best about their teammates and recognize that they are chock-full of potential, and our job is to figure out how to remove the stopper and let all that “bottled-up” talent out. Too many inexperienced managers set expectations by going into nauseating levels of detail about HOW to achieve the necessary results and remove any chance for individual innovation and personal growth for their employee. In my mind, that assumes that the employee associate couldn’t possibly figure out how to deliver the required results on his or her own. I find that you can get far better results, and develop your team much more quickly by assuming that each of your teammates is ready to grow to the next level. In believing that, you set an objective for them and describe what the results that constitute success will look like. You can and should trust that your team is confident enough, intelligent enough and ingenious enough to figure out how to navigate the journey to those results on their own. In trusting them to figure it out in their own way, you engage ownership mentality and accountability in them, and encourage them to spread their wings.
As a great manager or leader you do not have to dictate every detail to your team, but rather just set out the expectations about the final destination. Recognize the untapped potential in your associates, and encourage THEM to realize their own unrecognized talents as they learn to use them in new ways. By emphasizing the WHAT and not the HOW, you narrow focus on performance and results and simplify things for your team, giving them one less thing to worry about. At the end of the day, do you really care HOW your team met the objective or that they got there in the way that was best or easiest for them? These days, there are a tremendous number of talented people who struggle to do things when their freedoms and creativity are contained by constraints. Set your people free to fly their Freak Flags, as David Crosby used to say. Encourage your people to become self-aware and self-determined in their unique choices about how to achieve the accomplishments and watch their creativity and initiative soar!
What do YOU think? Have you found, like I have, that many of today’s talented younger generation do their best work when you trust them to figure out how to do it in their own way? Have you had better success in developing your team by encouraging their individuality as you encourage them to drive results?
Michael is a business advisor who specializes in leadership development of management teams and leadership teams. Michael lives in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and helps Business Executives to develop the next generation of leaders who can take client businesses to ambitious results. If you’d like us to send you a chapter on Employee Associate Development from Michael’s upcoming book on Business Best Practices, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.