Empower your employees and allow them to take risks and make mistakes. Give them room to grow –within reason — and you’ll reap the benefits over the long term. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you take off the training wheels, step back and let your employees soar on their own.

Most Mistakes Aren’t as Costly as They Might Seem

Especially for younger employees with a narrower scope of responsibility, “mistakes” may not actually be devastating setbacks, but valuable training experiences in disguise. Allow your employees a degree of creative or scheduling control, and they will quickly learn to impose the right amount of discipline and structure on their own endeavors. Give them the freedom to recognize bad ideas and shape them into better ones. Their mild struggles and fumbles will result in major material gain over the long term—for them, for the company, and for you.

Micromanaging Can Lead to Burnout

To be effective, leaders and managers need to focus on what they do best: leading and managing. Or more accurately, steering the company in the right direction based on an understanding of its organizational mission and vision. If managers become consumed by daily minutia or the need to prevent minor employee mistakes, who’s left standing at the wheel? Nobody, and the ship can easily drift off course. Keeping your full attention focused on both the mission critical tasks and the tasks that can and should be delegated can essentially mean holding down two jobs at once. And this just isn’t sustainable over the long term.

Trust Begets Trust

Trust your employees and they’ll start to put more trust in you. Even more important, respect begets respect, and trust is just a demonstration of respect. If you step back and tell them: “I know you can handle this,” they will be more likely to say the same to you when you’re called upon to exercise leadership and make organizational decisions.

Some Jobs Can be Delegated and Some Can’t

The more tasks you remove from your own plate, the more you free up your own time for bold actions that can move the company forward. If you’re trapped in an endless daily cycle of double-checking your employees’ spreadsheets, looking over their shoulders and steering them away from harmless and educational mistakes, you won’t be innovating, networking or looking for innovative ways to expand your brand and your business.

Encourage Employees to Work Together

If some team members do need to be monitored and coached full time, consider handing this task off to someone else—possibly a senior co-worker or a peer in search of horizontal leadership opportunities. Of course, when you do this, your employees take responsibility for each other’s failures and share credit for their successes, but this is the very definition of teamwork.

For more on how to step away and let your employees learn and grow on their own terms, consult with the Milwaukee management experts at Extension.


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