“I can do without you,” sings Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. “Without much ado we can all muddle through without you.”

As you go up the corporate ladder, and you have by your sheer ability and performance, do you tend to micro manage instead of managing?  Your job now is to guide, encourage, inspire and only fire-fight if you really need to. But what happens most of the time? You are there every step of the way. In fact, every half-step, even quarter-step. You are there not just telling them how to do it, but showing them. And mumbling to yourself, “If you want a job done, do it yourself.” Delegation is all very well, you say. But who is responsible for the final quality? Who is responsible for results? You are.

This sends the wrong signal to your bosses.  You are so good at what you’ve been doing all these years, may be you should go on doing it.  May be you should stay on in operations and not be brought into strategising and planning. May be you just don’t have what it takes to operate at a higher level. And – watch out for this one – may be someone else should be managing the team. Someone who’s good at what the job definition is – managing.

Many managers who just can’t let go, could be doing it from a sense of insecurity.  They want to show that they are still the best. No one can equal their performance.  What they are forgetting is that the team’s good performance is a credit to them.  They have learnt from the master. Now they want to show what good pupils they have been and make him proud.

So, what is the best way to delegate and maximize the talent and ability of the team? As a manager, you must begin to think differently.  You should be looking at the individuals in the team and deciding who needs more coaching and guidance in a specific area and making sure the right inputs are made available.

This may be a 360-degree turnaround in thinking. And it can’t happen overnight.  You now have an exciting new game plan. So give it time.  When you are with the team, avoid the temptation to do a post-mortem. This does not mean that you will let anyone get away with under-performing. The ultimate goal should not be jeopardised. Perhaps you can deputise someone else to monitor the team’s progress. Problems should be brought to your notice before they become critical when, of course, you should jump in and get the project back on track. Inspire the team to stretch and make the most of their abilities and improve day by day. Talk to them about the scope of the job and why what each of them achieves is so important to the ultimate goal. If you see a star emerging, instead of feeling threatened, give him or her all the encouragement you can.

The best way is delegate gradually and spend your time focusing on the specific areas where you personally can add value.  And let people make mistakes. Give them the freedom to fail. Let your team know that you are supporting them a hundred per cent and are there for them. It’s important to be sensitive to the feelings of individual members of the team, specially those who are not on par with the rest. Meet them separately and offer them the advice and encouragement they need to move up the learning curve.

Along the way, you will realize that other people don’t do things the way you do.  Don’t impose your style on them.  The important things is results. As you approach your job in this new way, keep a tab on your success rate in maximizing the skills of individual members of the team. This is where you should be spending your time and energy, and making your experience count.  This is where you can add value and demonstrate your ability to take on bigger and broader responsibilities. This will be noticed by higher-ups who will now find ways to enhance your career. Be a macro manager, not a micro manager. You will find this will be a win-win situation for you as well as the members of the team and they will love you for it.

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