Many well-intentioned leaders think that they have to do everything themselves for their organization to run well even. They spend their days making a vast number of executive decisions and taking action on everything from operations to planning to public relations to human resources to changing a light bulb. Along the way they grumble about how they have to do everything and how nothing is acceptable unless they do it themselves. The organization gradually mirrors their behaviors: It looks like them, sounds like them and functions like them.
Meanwhile, in another part of the universe, there are staff members who are also working but are underutilized and unmotivated. They've learned over time that their sole function is to put decision-ready material in front of the leader. They know that all their decisions will be questioned, gutted, reorganized, redirected and modified to look like the leader. Over time, they learn to do just enough to get by. After all, it doesn't really matter how great their work is because it will always be subject to review and change.
We all know organizations that are wrapped around their leader. There's nothing wrong with that concept but there is a gold mine that can help that leader and his or her organization succeed even more. It's called using your employees' skills.
This revolutionary concept calls on leaders to let go of their quality control (or perhaps power and control) issues and put their employees' skills to good use. It allows leaders to do less of the work, relax more and, most importantly, focus on the bigger picture stuff required to keep an organization thriving. Using your employees' skills quickly changes the dynamic in the workplace from one of dependence on you to one of independent thought and action. Employees get to apply their skills to help the organization thrive and experience the satisfaction that comes from showcasing their own talents and abilities.
Here are some key questions you can ask yourself to see if you are using your employees' skills to their best advantage.
1. What does each of my employees do best? Identify what each employee loves doing and have them do it. This will help them feel valued, increase morale and motivation.
2. In what ways do I allow people do the work they enjoy? Getting out of the way is a great start. Let the employee know you're there if they need some support but, otherwise, let them do their thing.
3. What areas of my job can I delegate? Take an inventory of the tasks you do and match the skills of any of your staff. More importantly, find out who really loves to do those things. Give them the tasks, no strings attached.
4. In what ways do I make everyone in my organization an Ambassador? Do you give everyone the opportunity to represent your organization in their particular niche or at other levels?
5. How do I involve my staff in the overall vision, mission and planning? If all decisions about the direction of the agency are handed down from the benevolent rulers above you may want to try to get input from the others in the organization, your staff.
6. How will my employees' skills create new opportunities? Organizations that do the same thing year after year may feel comfortable but they rarely innovate. Keep on the cutting edge by encouraging your employees to develop new initiatives.
These fundamental questions will give you a sense of areas where you can use your employees' skills to the organization's advantage. The trap we sometimes fall into is thinking that our company will fall apart if we're not controlling everything. This philosophy pretty much forces you to do everything yourself and make your leadership approach more difficult than it has to be.
You now know that you can take a huge load off your shoulders and improve the functioning of your organization by enlisting the help of your existing employees. There's an untapped gold mine in your organization and all you have to do is reach out and claim it. Take some time to find out what amazing skills your staff possesses and use them to improve your leadership, make your employees happier and move your organization forward.
How will you begin tapping into your employees talents and abilities?