Effective management is not about giving directions, it’s about giving responsibility

Many managers struggle with how to get their teams more efficient and autonomous. Many managers are stuck in a micro management way of leading their teams and can never seem to get any leverage from the teams work. However bold strategies they set or however well planned their projects are they always have to be present in order for the teams work to run smooth and efficiently, or at all.
The team never seem to come up with any new ideas and has to be constantly pushed in front of the manager in order for any progress to be made.

If you are a manager and you recognize this from your team, listen carefully now: It’s your own fault!

This type of behavior is typical for teams and individuals that doesn’t feel that they are responsible for the work at hand. They feel that you, as a manager, is responsible and that they “just work here”.
This type of behavoir is not anything that we are born with. This is something that we learn from experience and it is the managers way of leading, delegating, giving responsibility and giving directions that leads to this type of behaviour.

A team that gets micro managed will start to do just what they are told. No one within the team will grow or make an effort to improve their work since they know that the manager will poke around in every little detail of what they do. It’s not just worth doing anything additional besides the directions that they are given. The manager teaches the team, by his or her way of leading, that they don’t have to think for themselves and that any problem within their assignment will probably need to be solved by the manager. A team like this will be extreamly dependent of their manager which will result in a very ineffective team and a manager that doesn’t do anything else but handling all the hurdles the team run into every day.

Ok, so enough with the rambling. The question is: How do you create an autonomous team?

There are ways to change this by just changing how you work with your team. By starting giving responsibility instead of directions you will slowly get your team more engaged and efficient.

These are a few of many minor changes you can do to get instant results:
1. Don’t solve individuals specific problems, guide them to finding a solution themselves. This is easily done by just asking a question instead of coming up with a solution when they ask yoo for help. The question you should ask is “how would you like to solve this problem if it was up to you”. 9 out of 10 times they already have a prefered solution for a problem.

2. Make people responsible.
Start talking about responsibility openly. During your weekly meetings make it really clear who is responsible for what. By just declaring that a person is responsible for a specific task or function in the open everyone, including that person, will plant a seed in their mind about that responsibility. Once that seed starts to grow you can point questions regarding functions to those who are responsible for them. This forces your team to start talking to each other and work together to solve problems. And, no! You don’t need to promote people to managers to make them responsible.

3. Decentralize power.
If you feel that your teams results largely centers around you driving them forward you need to take a step back. In order for your team to get up to speed and start pushing forward by themselves you need to loosen the reins. Take a step back and let them all in on the strategy an the long term goals. Do it gradually over a couple of meetings so they recognize and aprove of the strategy. When you feel that they all are with you on the strategy you can give the team the assignment: “so how do we get there together the best way?”. Give them time to discuss, think and form tactics to meet the strategy and guide them along the way. When the tactics are set, voila, you have more engaged team members because it’s their tactics and goals.

4. Spend your time coaching, not managing. “Give a man fish and you have fed him for the day, teach a man to fish and you have fed him for life.” This is probably one of the best quotes I know and it is really true when it comes to management. The difference between managing and coaching is HOW you spend time with your directs and WHAT you do during that time. A manager is someone who sees to that everyone is one time and that they work during the day. However managing, takes so much time from the manager so he can’t really ensure the result of the work done. A coach helps her directs to use their time in the best manner to get the best result out of that work. Try to change your mindset to really interest yourself in WHAT people are getting out of what they are doing instead of ensuring THAT they are doing something. Coaching is a whole separate chapter but by only reminding yourself to be coaching instead of managaing I think you will reach great results. A good side effect is that people will love working for you once you stop managing them and they will reward you with better results.