Everyone needs a challenge from time to time, and that means that sometimes, supervisors and managers have to relinquish some control and let employees enter new and un-chartered territory. And yes, this also means giving up some of the credit when those employees conquer that territory.
Are you a manager looking for new ways to gear up your customer relations department? Put together a team of sales representatives and let them determine how it should be done! Are you a shop supervisor who wants to increase production by at least 10% over the next six months? Let a team of production workers determine what changes need to be made. You get the idea.
If you’re worried about how the team’s failure may impact you or the project at hand, there are still a few safeguards you can—and should—have in place. Allowing others to take responsibility for a variety of tasks that fall outside their normal routine doesn’t mean that supervisors and managers sit back and wait for everything to fall into place; rather, there’s still plenty of room for regular check-ins with the team. It helps to break the process down into steps (or have the team do this) and then evaluate progress on a step-by-step basis. Just remember that the role of the supervisor in this case is to ensure that things don’t go too far off track, not to take over the project at the first sign of a snag.
Debrief and Reward
Whether the project is a success or not, a debrief session is often one of the most important parts of ending a team project. The debrief session allows everyone on the team to share their concerns and to reflect on their own responsibility for the outcome of the project. Through this discussion, everyone is almost guaranteed to learn something new about their own work style and how they plan to manage similar team efforts in the future.
Of course, if the project is a success, reward the team accordingly. If the project isn’t such a success, reward the team for their small successes throughout the project and discuss why the project ultimately didn’t turn out as planned. It’s important not to lose sight of what the team did right as you’re trying to figure out what went wrong.
Gain a New Kind of Recognition
The best leaders aren’t always those who steer a team towards their own vision; they’re more often those who are able to engage and challenge team members to help them gain new skills and experience. By involving employees in decisions and processes they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to engage in, you give them confidence and a sense of company ownership they can’t get anywhere else, and that reflects positively on you.