This article comes from Entrepreneur.
But first, how can you tell if you are (or your boss is) under- or over-managing.
An under-manager’s signature behaviors include weak performance management, a tendency to avoid conflicts with employees, and generally poor accountability. They give scant feedback on their employees’ work and make minimal efforts to get up-to-speed.
Over- or micromanagers, on the other hand, are too involved in their employees’ day-to-day activities. They incessantly keep tabs on team members and request updates on where projects stand. They might even take pleasure in constantly making corrections.
Managers, like everyone else, learn from experience. Sometimes we find ourselves veering off-track toward an imbalanced managerial style. We correct as needed and hopefully, learn not to make the same mistakes.
But we can also learn from others — past bosses who have either met or missed the mark, and successful leaders who share what worked for them. In looking at what sets the best leaders apart — those who practice the middle way — here are a few behaviors we can try to replicate:
I’ve written before about how some respectful disagreement is necessary to foster innovation. But you’d be hard-pressed to find an entrepreneur who enjoys true interpersonal conflict in their organization. Nonetheless, it’s something that we all encounter from time to time and have to deal with. Like a cavity, ignoring it under will only delay resolution or exacerbate the problem.
Middle-way managers resolve a conflict by tackling the problem right away. They listen and ask questions. Rather than instructing, they guide team members to a solution.
Effective leaders recognize that their role is to assign projects and let people figure out how to complete them. It’s important to explain benchmarks and deliverables — the “what.” But then have faith that your team members are competent enough to get there — the “how.”
I realize that maintaining control seems comforting. But loosening your grip and allowing employees freedom can have impressive results.
A Society for Human Resource Management survey of managers in the U.S. found that “only 2 percent provide ongoing feedback to their employees,” which is incredible considering how much employees stand to benefit from it, both in terms of performance and job satisfaction.
Middle-way managers give regular feedback, beyond just annual reviews. And with that feedback, they focus on cultivating strengths just as much as improving weaknesses.
Effective leaders also recognize that each staff member is a complex individual — not solely an employee. They tailor their feedback and interactions accordingly.
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