Did you realize you can free yourself by empowering your staff to achieve more, creating a successful situation for you, them and the company?
As you wrap up year-end projects and quarterly goals, I’d like to encourage you to pat yourself on the back for all you did to come through this year! It has taken courage to navigate this new frontier in the work world, courage to adjust to new paradigms, often with new staff and practices, and some days (weeks?), courage just to show up.
I advocate self care as a professional skill, not just a personal one. As you take time this month to look at what’s ahead, here’s the next level of self care to ponder: How can you guide your staff to rise to a fuller potential? Besides all the obvious service to individual achievement, team morale, and company goals, it will also have the benefit of freeing you up to do more of what you want to do!
This is a win/win scenario. If you have some capable people, they certainly want to grow and take pride in their contributions positively affecting the team and company goals. The good that can happen is almost limitless if they feel recognized and trusted. So how do you level up your own professional aims by empowering your staff?
For some of you, that may involve looking with new eyes at how talented and capable your staff may be – or identifying individuals with potential that you hadn’t considered before. For others, it might be working to let go of the established top-down control in exchange for freeing up your time to use toward where you want to go. This change really can shift the culture and benefit everyone in unexpected ways.
Revisit Your Own Path
Many have been so busy handling changes in personnel, procedure and policies, it’s been hard to be innovative, let alone resume goals for your own path. Those may now look very different than they did pre-pandemic. Use any quiet time you can get during the holidays or early January to come up for air on this topic. Regain your sense of your own objectives. This is critical to have in mind, even if not fully formed, because it will be what motivates you to make way for your team to step up, and successfully add to their roles.
Assess Your People
Next, book a meeting with yourself to assess your staff, one by one. Your aim should be to understand where each is on their developmental path. Ask yourself: Have the few who have always stood out gotten the lions’ share of opportunity? Who else could take on more? Who has been eager? Who may need more training to do well? What kind would they need, and how could you help them get it?
You will have some people who are content being right where they are, doing what they’re doing. If they are producing, that’s a solid asset as is.
If some have potential, but are not highly skilled, you can develop their capacity. Inevitably there may be some who are just not right for the task, who have to be let go. It’s hard to do, but because it is, we often do them a disservice (and the company too) to keep them on too long. And if it’s causing the employee angst because they know they are not doing well and it is taxing the productivity of co-workers, you have to have the courage to let them go, perhaps helping them to see that their talents and fulfillment could be be waiting elsewhere.
The more you become sensitive to who is in front of you, what they are capable of, and how they can be developed, the more you can support them… which supports you.
Empower Your Staff
Here are some fairly simple ways you can offer opportunities to take leadership roles:
- Include them in discussions so higher ups or clients can see your staff understands the issues
- Defer to them in meetings to contribute rather than managing it all yourself
- Put someone in charge when you step away
If someone is high on the motivation/skills matrix, you don’t need a lot of oversight. Instead, ask them coaching questions about a project ie: who have you talked to, what do you think will be most impactful and why. This develops their problem solving skills and you access what they know. If there’s room for people to think out of the box, you may achieve more goals in creative ways or see solutions that hadn’t been there. All of this creates a culture where others can step up for you.
You can free yourself by empowering your staff, so you can do what you aspire to do. You can work to create a culture where goals can be met in an environment where people can innovate. Examine who is on your team, how motivated they are, and how you can set them up for success. Know they will need time to ramp up. Let them know that there is room for their learning curve. That will give them courage to take the leap. As a leader, this can be a courageous act in businesses where productivity and outcomes are very important.
If you’d like to talk through ideas or concerns about how this could happen, please contact me!