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Managing From the Top

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Managing From the Top“I think the most difficult transition for anybody from being a worker bee to a manager is the issue of delegation.” In The Corner Office Adam Bryant quotes Tachi Yamada, the president of the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program.  Mr. Yamada alludes to micromanagement as his nemesis.  He wonders, “What to give up?”…”How can you have the team do what you would do yourself without doing it?”

In the start-up phase of any business the owner manager does everything. The enterprise then adds employees.  The owner/manager trains them, nurtures them, however there was always direct involvement.  Later the enterprise has grown to include multiple divisions.  The days of doing and knowing everything are long over.  But how do you as owner transition?

Top owner/managers come to realize they simply cannot touch all of the work.  In Mr. Yamada’s case he has developed the successful approach of taking a “micro interest”.  He no longer stands over shoulders…but he checks in on critical control points for tasks and projects assigned. He relies on good people for the right answers.  By picking two or three critical control points he can check in on only those where problems are more likely to occur. In this fashion he leaves micromanagement behind in favour of relying upon the skills and knowledge of those he has hired.

So too have you hired, trained and rewarded employees and have learned to trust them, especially your division managers.   By letting your workers take the reins you allow them to follow you.  By taking a micro interest approach but more importantly taking a larger interest in employee development you breed workers and managers who want to exceed your expectations.

In smaller enterprises the owner is either the mother or father of every job in the place.  In my experience you have to reflect on the sum of all your parts; how did you get where you are?  By taking an active role in employee development you build trust, respect and loyalty.  You should not fear delegating to those you have hired and nurtured if you have earned their respect.  If you cannot delegate the problem may be with your internal relationships.

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