One of the most common Achilles’ heels I see in managers is their tendency to micromanage every move of their team. Though this drive to nitpick often stems from perfectionism and a detail-oriented work ethic (which are otherwise advantageous characteristics in the workplace), micromanaging ultimately curbs employee loyalty since it hinders their ability to think and act independently.
What’s the solution? Trade micromanagement for empowerment.
The caring leader purposefully delegates important projects to their employees, and fully trusts them to problem-solve in their own unique ways, even if that entails making a few mistakes along the way. By surrendering a certain degree of hands-on control and entrusting your team with responsibility, you demonstrate self-confidence and the knowledge that true growth comes with the pressures of autonomous decision-making.
Below I share three time-tested strategies for empowering your employees by trusting them with self-directed projects:
- Set clear and quantifiable expectations. This step is paramount to avoid confusion, and frustration later down the road. As a leader, it’s your job to provide an easy-to-follow framework that your team can work off of. Don’t be too narrow in your parameters, but also don’t be too loose. That precarious balance is a key driver of employee loyalty, as employees are more likely to consider their work meaningful the more clarity they have around objectives. In short, clarity is an important brush stroke for the caring leader.
- Encourage risk-taking and innovation, especially if it’s outside your purview. The beauty of embracing a diverse team is that they bring unique approaches to problem-solving that are distinctly different from your own. Those who lead with heart invite innovation that they wouldn’t have otherwise believed plausible, even if that means making thoughtful mistakes. That valuable trial and error process will yield inspired business results, even if it complicates the journey from ask to result. Patience and grace is key!
- Be a readily accessible resource for your team should they need to lean on you. Make no mistake: delegating and empowering your employees does not mean you entirely abdicate your responsibilities. As a caring leader, you have an obligation to be there for your team members, for both personal and professional matters. As they’re working through obstacles, be ready for questions, giving advice, suggesting resources, and regular check-ins. Frequent (though not overbearing) communication will show your employees that you respect their abilities, and are willing to provide support as needed. Just as you rely on your employees, expect them to rely on you.
In a nutshell, if you are not empowering others to make their own decisions and do their best work, you are not a caring leader. Empowering others doesn’t diminish your own strengths, rather it augments them. After all, the power harnessed from the diverse styles of your team is a testament to your judgment as a leader.
If you follow the steps outlined above, your employees will feel a sense of fulfillment, and your own workload will be significantly lessened–it’s a win-win situation for all. With that said, get back out there, get to empowering, and let the business results follow.