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Want a More Productive Team? Empower Them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

If you want something done right, then… do it yourself!

We’ve all heard that mantra before.  But if you find yourself saying it too often at work, the problem isn’t the team.  It’s the leader. The best leaders empower others, still so many managers are reluctant to trust their teammates and employees.

According to Teresa A. Daniel, Dean of the Human Resource Leadership (HRL) Program at Sullivan University, despite the intuitive feeling that the opposite would be true, “employees actually perform WORSE when they feel like they are being watched.”  Failing to trust our team, or micromanaging, leads to negative consequences, both on performance and morale.

I’ll often ask my audiences across the globe, “who here has even BEEN micromanaged?”

Every hand in the room shoots up.

“Who here ENJOYED being micromanaged??”

No hands, and a room full of laughter.

Lastly, I’ll ask them, “So, how many of you woke up this morning, had a cup of coffee, smiled and said ‘I can’t WAIT to micromanage my team today!!”  More laughter.

So…where’s the disconnect?  Nearly everyone has BEEN micromanaged.  Nearly everyone DISLIKED it intensely. And no one INTENDS to employ this smothering style.  So, what gives??

Most likely, there is a lack of trust and confidence; something that a properly empowered team rarely suffers.  John Maxwell writes in his 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership that a true leader “empowers others.” Here’s a few ways to do it well:


  • 1. Communicate early – both boundaries and expectations.  Done effectively, this eliminates the need to “manage” the minutiae.
  • 2. Trust your team.  Do you REALLY need multiple daily updates or to be copied on the most mundane of emails? You hired this person for a reason.  Trust them to get the job done. 
  • 3.  Forgive mistakes.  Failure to do this will limit success by producing an overly-cautious and fearful team, afraid to take the necessary risks success often requires.
  • 4. Ask good questions.   Instead of directing explicitly, try instead asking POWERFUL questions. “What do you think are our best options in this situation?” forces your team member to think.  Challenge your team to create solutions rather than simply completing a checklist and you will see tremendous growth. 
  • 5.  Praise publicly.  Too often, managers want to be the “smartest person in the room.”  Set the ego aside and praise your team members for their efforts and credit their successes.  Ultimately, a strong team only amplifies everyone’s success and status.

Want to empower your team?  Us Too! Let’s CONNECT.