In my conversations with leaders last week, one common theme was apparent: They want – no, they need – their managers and team members to become more self-sufficient, skilled, and confident in their respective roles. The CEOs, business owners, board directors, and managers I talked with are busy. They’re really busy. They’re juggling multiple priorities from multiple ‘bosses’. So when one of their managers or team members comes to them with a problem that should not require their input or approval, it’s as if yet another ball is being tossed into their already over-loaded mix. Something needs to change and soon or these leaders are going to start dropping balls and making mistakes – big mistakes.
From my experience, the adults we work with typically do not take ownership of their work, solve their own problems, or suggest their own initiatives for one of three reasons: 1) Their prior managers didn’t allow them to do so; 2) Their prior managers didn’t challenge them to do so; or 3) Their prior managers didn’t train them to do so. Whichever reason it is, it is what it is. You can’t change the past. You can only create a different future.
You can’t change the past. You can only create a different future.
Therefore, as the leader now, it’s up to you to identify which of those reasons might be holding your managers or team members back from independently and competently doing the jobs they’re being paid to do. Because that’s what these leaders I spoke with last week are really looking for: They want their managers and team members to do the jobs they’re already being paid to do – independently and competently.
They want their managers and team members to do the jobs they’re already being paid to do — independently and competently.
So, if you’re like the leaders I spoke with last week, where do you start? Use the objective tools you have. Review your position descriptions and theirs. Get clear yourself on YOUR job and THEIRS.
- ☐ What should YOU be doing and what should THEY be doing – independently and competently?
- ☐ What does that look like?
- ☐ What are you and they doing to inhibit this?
- ☐ What support/training do (you and) they need to close this gap?
- ☐ What types of issues should they be handling – without any input from you – that they’re not? Be specific.
- ☐ What types of issues should they bring to you for discussion or approval – even though they’re going to do the bulk of the work? Be specific.
- ☐ What types of things do they handle that they only need to keep you apprised of? Be specific. (This doesn’t mean cc’ing you on every email. This means understanding what to brief you on during your weekly one-on-one, etc.)
- ☐ What types of things should they bring to you right away? Be specific.
By being specific, you’re not limiting the types of tasks and issues. You’re trying to create clear visual images for them as to the types of things that fall into each of those categories.
Once you’re clear on specifically what you want them to handle – independently and competently – talk with them to explain this transition you and they are starting. Clarify the support you’re offering and the outcomes you and they will work towards. Be clear with them and yourself. This is a learning process for both of you. Then catch yourself when they forward a problem or task to you that truly doesn’t need your input. Instead of ‘just handling it because it’s quicker to just do it”, don’t. Send it back to them and ask something like, “What do you need of me? I’m not sure why you sent this to me without letting me know how you’re handling this. Please advise.”
“What do you need of me? I’m not sure why you sent this to me without letting me know how you’re handling this. Please advise.”
Be supportive but challenge them to do their jobs so you have time to do yours.
Copyright MMXXIII – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz Weber is an advisor to boards of directors, business owners, and C-Suite leaders. She’s a leadership, strategic and succession planning consultant, speaker, and author. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!