It may come as a surprise to learn that studies have found employees are more productive when bosses leave them to get on with their work. That’s right: You will get the best out of your employees if you stay out of their way.
It’s called “hands-off” management and it comes down to this: Small business owners can create productivity barriers when they focus too much on helping. If you train your employees well and know that they understand their duties, odds are likely that they’ll get the job done just fine without you.
Here are eight tips on how to become an effective hands-off manager:
- Ignore your inner critic. Pay no attention to the distrusting voice inside your head; your employees are not going to run your business into the ground the minute you turn your back. They know what they’re doing because you taught them how to do it. Concentrate instead on other tasks only you can perform.
- Delegate to create more time. Many small business owners are frustrated by the lack of hours in a week. “If I only had more time,” you say, “I could launch my marketing program.” Well, guess what? You do have more time, and it’s right in front of you: your employees. If you put them to work on even a fraction of the extra tasks that you’re scrambling to accomplish, you’ll add hours to your work week.
- Assign complete tasks. When delegating work, assign your employees complete tasks. If you can’t do that, make sure that they understand the overall purpose or projection of the project and connect them to the group that is managing or planning the work. Your objective is to get staff members to understand the big picture, because that’s when they perform their best.
- Create a clear understanding. When handing off a given task, the employee should understand exactly what you want them to do. Encourage questions. Ask them if they’d like you to demonstrate the task the first time, then get their feedback to make sure they understand your instructions. Doing so will prevent headaches and lost hours down the road.
- Help them to visualize the result. If you have an image in your mind of the outcome, try to share that visual with your employee. When they can envision what it is they’re setting out to do, odds are much greater that they will meet your expectations.
- Understand that shared leadership is empowering. To hand over the reins on a project to one of your employees will boost their self-confidence. People who feel successful usually are successful.
- Solicit employee input. A hands-off management style allows employees to think independently and to breathe new life into your company. Remember when you first started your business? Every function was performed your way. Well, it may have been your way, but that doesn’t mean it was the best way. Give your employees a chance and you may be pleasantly surprised by what happens.
- Start slowly. Begin hands-off management slowly. Every day or week, give your employees more tasks and responsibilities. It’s perfectly OK to tell them how you handle such-and-such a task and why. But reassure them that it’s fine to experiment. Maybe they’ll discover better or more efficient ways of producing the product, delivering the service, billing the client, or generating new sales.
Also be sure to read Learning How to Delegate Responsibility for additional pointers.