Editor’s Note: Jim Cucinotta is a very senior executive, with over 20+ years of experience in leading sales, marketing, and operations teams. He is also an author on Flevy. You can view his firm’s business training guides here.
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There is a delicate balance between being on top of your team and over managing. And knowing the difference will dictate your team’s performance. The Situational Leadership model developed by Ken Blanchard states that you manage people based on their proficiency in individual tasks and as they gain expertise in each task, you give them more freedom only in that task.
However, as a manager, you tend to manage the whole person and fail to see the broad range of strengths and weaknesses your team members bring. You tend to focus on a one attribute or deficiency and manage all of their skills to that one skill level thus under managing or over managing a person or situation. Both are equally as bad, but today we are focused on over managing your team.
To avoid over managing your team, you need to have:
You need to believe that you gave clear and concise direction and that your team will follow that direction to achieve the desired outcomes. There are many different ways to achieve the goal. Your job is to make sure your team doesn’t stray too far, not dictate how every move needs to be made. Your team may need to change their mini courses of direction to avoid issues, yours is to steady the ship and reach your destination. Without having mutual trust, your team will never reach its fullest potential.
By over managing your team, you are showing them that you do not value their skills and abilities. You need to understand that your team has a variety of work experiences. This variation in backgrounds actually works to your advantage. They are able to see a situation from more vantage points and bring new ideas to the table. By keeping a lid on their ideas, questions, and visions, you are showing them that you do not respect them as individuals. This is a sure way to lose your team. People will accept a control freak who listens, not one who doesn’t want input.
To be a leader, you need to know that the direction you gave is sound, that your team members are competent, and that you are going to achieve your desired outcome. There is no room for wavering because wavering means you need to get more deeply involved. That lack of confidence either in your team’s ability, the task at hand or yourself will cause you to ultimately micro-manage because “it won’t be done right unless you do it”. Now you created an environment where mediocre performance is covered up by you.
At the end of the day, it is really hard to manage a project without being in someone’s business. There is a weak link in every chain. Your goal though is to make sure you are giving good direction, are there when your team needs you, and know that with those two things in place, good things will happen.