When we’re conducting management training sessions with a client business, we’ll always take a break mid-morning. To participants, it’s an innocent 15 minutes to relax, and maybe grab a coffee. But to us, it’s a bit of a test to gauge how well the managers have developed their people. The test has a simple premise: If a manager calls their office in the break, they fail.
What’s the problem with a manager calling their office? If they can’t go so much as half a morning without checking on their people, to make sure there are no fires to put out, then clearly they’re failing their true purpose as a manager – which is to create an entity that will function in their absence.
Throughout the many walks of our personal and professional lives, we’ve been conditioned to make people dependent on us. But once we get into management, it’s incumbent upon us to make our people independent of us. The importance is two-fold: First, by developing our people to be independent, by supporting them with the right training and tools, by placing trust in them, by empowering them to take care of their own issues and problems, we encourage their development. And second, this compels our people to work through their problems themselves, so no longer do they drag us into an unnecessary grind that forces us to work in the business – when we need to work on the business.
This is why it’s such a danger for managers to be consumed with addressing their employees’ problems. Not only do they stifle their employees’ development but they destroy the creative time that’s vital to improving and growing the business. By managing the urge to be needed and embracing your real purpose as a manager, you’ll discover that it will be a win for your people, a win for the business and a win for you.