The hardest thing for a manager to learn

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The best of all possible worlds for a boss

If you’re a boss, the ideal situation is that you can hand work out to everyone on your team and be sure it will be done well, without close supervision. That way you will be part of a highly engaged, productive team. And you will be able to spend your time on interesting and rewarding work, like helping team members succeed in their job and career.

Sound great? It is, but …

Great teams don’t happen by accident

Great teams take work. You have to help team members develop the skill to do any task that might come their way. You have to pay attention to team dynamics and work assignments so every is willing to pitch in.

And you have to do one more thing …

You have to let go of control

That’s scary and it’s hard. But to have a great, committed, and productive team, you have to let go of control. But, you think …

“They’ll make mistakes.” Yep. We all do. But mistakes are often where learning begins.

“They’ll do things differently than me.” Yep. But that’s the price of admission. Besides, sometimes they’ll find a better way.

“I might get in trouble for something they do.” Yep, again. But that can happen no matter how much you try to control things.

How to make it work.

Help your people learn the work. Use mistakes as teaching moments. No scolding allowed.

Let them do the work they know how to do. If they know how, and they work hard, they really don’t need you, now do they?

What will happen when you let go sensibly.

You will be amazingly uncomfortable. After all, you’re putting your reputation in the hands of your team members. It’s worth the risk.

There will be mistakes and glitches. What you do next is crucial. You have to be calm. Take a deep breath or three. Pause. Slip into coaching mode. If you go all crazy and snatch back control or slip into scold mode, you will have a very hard time getting team members to believe you’re willing to let go. That’s because you aren’t.

But if you can learn to live with that fear and learn to foster freedom, you can wind up with what every manager wants.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Letting your team members do the work they know how to do will make everyone’s life better. It will be hard and it will be scary, but it’s really worth it.

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