As a business leader, it can sometimes feel as though it is your responsibility to manage every single aspect or detail of a company. This feeling of control is a natural trait of many leaders; however, it can occasionally lead to decreased innovation and independence amongst your team.

Letting go of control as a leader can be nerve-wracking, especially when you are accustomed to being in charge. Yet, embracing this feeling of discomfort can often be the key to heightening productivity and overall prosperity within a business structure.

In this article, I will discuss how business leaders can loosen their grip on the reins by focusing on a few core aspects of their companies. I will explore the idea of how a looser element of control can result in a more cohesive and successful team.

Focus on Your Team’s Achievements

Sometimes, business leaders can focus a lot of their attention on micro-managing their teams on a day-to-day basis. While you want to ensure that your staff members are held to exceptional standards, it is essential to pay attention to their achievements first.

When your team feels their achievements have gone unnoticed and unappreciated, this can become a major inhibitor to overall employee retention and company success.

A white paper published by O.C. Tanner Learning Group examined the findings of a 10-year study of 200,000 managers and employees. This study uncovered that 79 percent of participants who quit their jobs stated a “lack of appreciation” as the main reason for their departure.

A low employee retention rate is harmful to any business, no matter what field or industry you’re working in. By focusing your attention on your team’s achievements, you can provide the recognition needed for your star players to stay motivated – as well as providing a greater incentive for others to put forward more effort to receive that same level of recognition.

Setting Clear Goals is Key

Setting goals that contribute to the success of the company is not only essential for achieving business objectives, but also for giving employees a clear pathway to achievement.

According to McKinsey & Company, there are 3 factors to implement when working to create an effective goal-setting strategy:

  1. Employee Involvement: Your team members need to feel involved in the entire process of a project or goal. To do so, it is important to use the SMART goal setting method – specific, measurable, actionable, results-oriented, and time-bound. By using this method, it is easier to set both long and short-term goals that keep each employee involved and engaged.
  2. Uniting Individual and Business Goals: Your employees need to see clearly how they can achieve their individual goals via the achievement of business goals. McKinsey reports that 91 percent of companies with effective performance management systems tie individual and business goals together in this way. For example, our marketing team at CPQi often discuss the global business goals in an open meeting, then encourage everyone in the team, at all levels, to debate how their weekly marketing objectives can be rewired, or even changed, to better serve the company strategy. This can really help bring out leadership and strategy skills in team members who may not have had the chance otherwise.
  3. Adaptability: While setting clear and attainable goals is crucial, it is equally important to make these goals flexible. Adaptability in the workplace is highly beneficial and will help employees to better handle fluctuations in business or environment independently.

Measure Success According to Quality Rather than Speed

Once your goals for your team are set, it’s important to establish an effective system for measuring productivity and success.

Though you may want to have a specified timeframe in which certain objectives or projects should be complete, prioritizing speed as your main metric of success can lead to poor decision-making and rushed task completion in the name of timeliness.

Instead, you should employ a success-measurement system that gives employees enough time to reach specified goals, focusing on the quality of the work they have produced in a given timespan.

Employ the 3 Month Check-In

Completing team check-ins every 3 months is beneficial for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Trust-Building: Giving your team 3 months at a time to work independently – or collaboratively with each other – builds a sense of trust between you and your staff.
  • Structured Around Quarters: By checking in every 3 months, you can structure your goal assessments around business quarters as well. This makes it easier to align smaller goals with overarching business objectives.
  • Long-Term Performance Assessment: A 3-month period gives you a lot more time and quantity of work to assess. In turn, you can provide your employees with more meaningful and helpful feedback.

However, expanding check-ins to occur every 3 months rather than on a weekly or monthly basis does not mean disconnecting from your team. Rather, it means you can make yourself available without assessing every little detail of your team’s work along the way.

Schedule Smarter Meetings

Meetings can often be the death of productivity.

When you over-schedule meetings, crucial hours of the workday are wasted on what can feel like endless planning, rather than active participation.

According to the Harvard Business Review, a study of 182 senior managers by the University of North Carolina revealed several key statistics:

  • 65 percent of managers said meetings keep them from completing their own work.
  • 71 percent stated meetings are unproductive and inefficient.
  • 62 percent stated meetings fail to further unify the team.

The key to effective meetings is to schedule them only when needed, such as to provide feedback or new assignments. Keeping yourself open and letting your team know they can schedule with you for guidance is essential, but it can sometimes help to avoid scheduling multiple check-ins outside of your regular 3-month check-in routine.

Final Thoughts

Letting go of control as a business leader may be frightening at first – but having a team you feel confident in and trust is crucial.

In this article, I have outlined 4 key factors to focus on to loosen your leadership grip: celebrate your team’s achievements, measure success according to quality, scale back check-ins to a 3-month period, and schedule smarter meetings.

By following these steps, you will be well on your way to a more productive and prosperous work environment – not to mention fortifying the strength of your team along the way.

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