Build a Team That Leads, Not Follows

How to give your employees the room to get the job done

Management Matters 072015

It's a common occurrence among the most talented people in the corporate world: highly skilled and qualified workers make the leap from valued employee to uncertain manager.

Unfortunately, rather than becoming masters of their own departments, many of these managers work twice as much as they did in their previous jobs, unwittingly relegating themselves to the lowest rung on the ladder. As founder and CEO of The MaxOut Group, a company devoted to empowering and teaching entrepreneurs to develop strategies to increase profits, I have seen how important it is for managers to be the brains and overseers of the operation. Sixteen-hour days get managers lost in the minutiae. They lose perspective and burn out. Professionals who run departments or, in some cases, entire businesses, need distance for perspective, and the best way to create that is by knowing how to delegate duties to employees.

The role is to be the strategic visionary who hires, trains, and develops the best talent available, and then delegates work. Here are five keys to delegation that will enable any manager to create a team of empowered professionals.

1. Understand that your team is made up of human beings. No one can work nonstop, so get your timing right. Know what each employee can handle, and avoid overworking them. Most people perform at their best when they are consistently busy but not rushed or pressured.

2. Focus on the strengths of your team.
 Delegation is not a dump-and-run tactic. Know your employees and how they fit into your business puzzle. Allow them to do what they do well, and give them responsibilities and authority. They'll be happier, and so will you.

3. Focus on your own strengths, then plug the holes. Few of us are great at everything. If bookkeeping's not your thing, hire an accountant. If you don't have marketing experience, find someone with proven skills. Trying to perform jobs that you don't do well will require twice as much effort with less-than-satisfactory results.

4. Be the resource king or queen. Your employees are only as good as the resources they have. Make sure that they are equipped to always do the best work for you on a daily basis. Running out of stock, not having new software, and not shelling out for that desperately needed printer are not signs of good delegation.

5. Become the fire, ice, and motivation behind your team. When they need guidance, give it to them; when they need appreciation, offer it to them. Inspire, motivate, and lead by supporting your delegated decisions and following up on them often.

Managers need to be the big thinkers: to identify patterns both good and bad; to become an idea machine and testing fanatic; to fill out details from an outlined strategy; to be aware of market trends; to always have one eye on the competition; and to develop an instinct for the people with whom they like to work.

Zenovia Andrews, is a business development strategist with extensive experience in corporate training, performance management, leadership development, and sales consulting with international clients, including Pfizer, Inc. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. A sought-after speaker and radio/TV personality, she is the author of All Systems Go and MAXOut: I Want It All.

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of Successful Meetings.