Hands-Free Management: Chart a New Course for Your Business

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A hands-free manager leaves their employees to work and innovate on their own but stays readily available and informed should any team member need a helping hand.

It is often said that a “boss” simply sits back and tells people what to do, while a “leader” is in the trenches, so to speak, working alongside his or her employees. This is often touted as the be-all and end-all of management advice: Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

While I am the first to admit that I get my hands dirty with the best of them – I don’t believe that this should be how you manage your team on a daily basis. Practicing this brand of “hands-on” management can easily backfire.

If you remain too involved in the tasks of your employees, you may notice a dip in productivity. Your employees may begin to feel as though you do not trust them, have little confidence in their skills, or it may simply take too much time to keep you up to speed.

So what does a “hands-free” manager look like?

If you’ll note, I chose my words carefully. I am not referring to a “hands-off” manager – you cannot simply “set it and forget it” like your favorite crockpot dish. A hands-free manager leaves their employees to work and innovate on their own but stays readily available and informed should any team member need a helping hand.

Here are some tips on how to be a hands-free manager.

1. Trust your employees

In a way, this is about trusting yourself. You invest great time and effort into ensuring your employees have the knowledge and know-how to fulfill their responsibilities. Let them. Provide guidance and motivation, and trust that they have it from there.

2. Stay up to date

This may look different for different company structures. My company, GoWrench Auto, is a startup working with a small team. We utilize team apps such as Slack to ensure that critical communications are readily available to the entire team. I can often check in and get status updates by skimming a specific channel or by sending a quick request to the team.

In a larger organization, with more tiered levels of management, staying up to date might be a weekly or even daily meeting with the management teams or department heads. Whatever approach allows you to stay on top of potential issues, work that into your schedule – it’s invaluable.

3. Be ready to step in

You want your employees to see you as a support system rather than someone who cracks the whip. Knowing that you will be there to pick up any slack if something goes wrong makes your employees feel like they are part of a team. This harbors a desire to not let their other team members down, including the manager.

Does that sound like what you are currently doing within your own organization? If not, take a look at some of the benefits you may see by switching to a hands-free management style.

Heightened creativity and innovation

Without a traditional manager looking over their shoulder, it is up to employees to find solutions to everyday problems; this can mean quicker, more efficient work being completed and more room for innovation. This also frees up the manager’s time, leaving them able to concentrate on the next big project.

Greater sense of personal fulfillment

We all want a job that inspires us. Knowing that their manager trusts in their abilities leads employees to feel the same way, thereby promoting a sense of personal responsibility and fulfillment when working on and completing a project.

Increased clarity and productivity

With a hands-free management setup, each employee is given specific tasks and responsibilities. Knowing exactly what is required of them –along with the freedom to complete it – provides a sense of clarity leading to more a productive workday.

This management style may not work for everyone, but why not give it a shot and see how it can affect the productivity of your employees?

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