By Andy Bailey
They’re in bathrooms, restaurants and grocery stores, secured over sinks as a reminder of basic hygiene – the infamous “All Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning to Work” signs. Now I do think hand-washing is in everyone’s best interest, and I am a complete advocate of a thorough scrub. But seeing these signs makes me wonder…
Is it really necessary to essentially loom over our employees’ shoulders reminding them of elementary sanitation habits? I surely hope not. Maybe it’s just the ultimate form of micromanaging in the workplace.
An office where employees are consistently reminded of obvious practices can turn an out-of-the-box thinker into a zombie or your top go-getter into someone on the hunt for her next job. If you really want to get the best out of your employees, you’ve got to get rid of unnecessary rules and regulations and stop micromanaging.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Set the Standard
If employees know exactly what’s expected of them from the start, they won’t need constant reminders of rudimentary tasks. Identify S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) for your team members from the get-go. If you don’t have some kind of scorecard already set up, work with each person to outline milestones and priorities. These goals will set them confidently on the road to success and reduce your need to micromanage.
Trust Your Employees
Once you’ve set the standard, let them get to work. If you’ve hired the right people, your confidence in their abilities will encourage them to take initiative, and that freedom will allow their best ideas to flourish. They’ll feel like valued, trusted members of the company when they’re not being hounded over the smallest tasks.
Behave Like the Adults You Are
Many times the adult agreement is either forgotten or never fully implemented, but it’s a crucial element in running your office like a well-oiled machine. When conflict arises – and trust me, in any business it will – ensure your team members know how to handle it without shooting down others’ ideas or playing the blame game. Open, professional communication is key to a team that functions well, without your monitoring their every move.
Don’t Be Afraid of Change
Once you get the ball rolling, don’t expect things to stay the same. Your company is going to change over time, but if you’ve hired proactive people who have the company’s best interest in mind, any change will be for the better. If you try to keep things the same because “that’s how it’s always been,” prepare for a stagnant company with uninspired employees. Be flexible, give your employees opportunities and you’ll benefit from all the resources around you – not just your own.
Maybe the “must wash hands” signs exist to reassure the customer that proper standards of cleanliness are being upheld. Or maybe some employees are more likely to work efficiently if they’re reminded to do so every five minutes (but I wouldn’t recommend those players for your team). Be clear about your expectations, let your employees thrive with your trust, and the need to micromanage will vanish as fast as the signs over your sink.
Andy Bailey is the author of No Try Only Do: Building a Business on Purpose, Alignment, and Accountability. He is CEO and head coach with business coaching firm Petra Coach and serves in an advisory role on the Gazelles Council, the leaders of the Scaling Up movement. Visit his blog at www.petracoach.com for more business and leadership insight.