Relinquishing control to your staff can be a challenging feat if you are an old school control freak type of manager that feels only you have the brain cells necessary to make decisions. And when key members of your team leave, especially a management team member, all of a sudden you are doing their job too because once again you can’t believe anyone else is capable of stepping up.
When you don’t allow others on your team to perform their roles without your constant active participation, they simply cannot grow. Their skills never get built, let alone stretched past their known capabilities when you as the all-knowing manager must approve everything being done.
But let’s say you have a section of the company being run by a manager that actually does know how to empower his or her team to perform their job. You probably still try to run this direct report, but their team is spared your constant interventions because they have a shield between them and you. That is until this person leaves and you become them until you hire a replacement.
While this goes on in numerous corporate environments, and I’m watching such a disaster today in a company, I want to share with you the results of a personal experience in my own career.
I reported to a senior level manager that was one of these controlling managers that felt the need to participate in everything. Whether warranted or requested, he had no ability to control his two-cent comments on any subject. He managed multiple lines of business that were each staffed with very competent managers. Two of us did not do well with the micro managing and were able to build very robust operations that functioned well. The rest of our peers struggled to have any control and their operations struggled too.
However, I had not realized at the time that my particular department ran as well as it did because I acted as a shield. It wasn’t until I had left the company, that a former staff manager that reported to me said that “it was all rolling down the hill now” and things were falling a part. My former manager was not a subject matter expert, but thought he was, and so his decisions caused all sorts of havoc. Even though he hired a replacement for me, it was another puppet that he could control, and the function fell completely apart within a year.
Anyone that has studied Leadership Development will tell you that in the past couple of decades, little is actually new. We repackage concepts to encourage learning, but empowering employees is still a necessity if we are to have well run organizations. If you struggle with turning over control to staff, eventually it will do you, your staff, and the organization harm. It has always been that way and it always will be. So get on board with the game and learn to relinquish control. Not all control, just the parts that make sense.