Most of my clients tell me they are trying to do more with fewer resources, and as they look to the future, this is unlikely to change.
Often, well-meaning managers try to lessen their team’s burden by “helping”; this comes in many forms:
• Doing the work themselves
• Getting projects “ready” to start
• Helping team members with projects
• Finishing/presenting output/results to leadership
While the manager’s involvement may make a small dent in the team’s workload, there are several unintended consequences for the team:
• Fewer interesting growth opportunities for team members which can erode morale
• Delays in getting the projects “ready”, shortening the remaining time to completion
• Less input on how the work gets done, resulting in less ownership
• Reduced opportunity to interact with clients/customers, slowing professional growth
• Limited team member visibility to leadership, blunting networking opportunities
Additionally, under-delegating has consequences for the well-meaning manager:
• More doing and less delegation adds to the manager’s work and stress
• Less time for purposeful planning, decision-making and prioritization
• Less time and energy to coach/lead/grow the team
This creates a vicious cycle and is exacerbated with each additional project. Over time, team members can become less productive, less motivated, and may leave the organization, further compounding the original resource issue.
After having hundreds of conversations with managers and employees, my experience and research has uncovered several common gaps between how the manager perceives the situation and how their team thinks and feels about them.
When I speak with mangers about this phenomenon, I typically hear the comments in the left column of the table below. When I speak with individual contributors, I typically hear the right column story.
Can you see both perspectives?
How does it feel?
If managers knew what their employees really thought, maybe they would ‘help’ less and ‘coach’ more.
STOP Doing and START Coaching!
The best people managers focus more on coaching and less on doing tasks themselves. This serves the greater good on countless levels:
• Good Managers serve as amplifiers, supporting the work of many team members
• ICs (Individual Contributors) learn how to do more efficiently
• ICs have more accountability and job satisfaction
• Organizations benefit from increasing team capabilities
• Managers have time and energy to coach, plan, strategize, providing their team with a vision