Becoming more independent is a part of life, including within the workplace, and good leaders are constantly striving to help more dependent workers become self-sufficient.
Making staff members more independent requires plenty of encouragement, strong communication, trust, room to fail, and increasing responsibility. Below are a few key areas where you can take action to make your people more self-sufficient.
It is quite typical for department managers to keep tabs on their staff members, ensuring they are properly supported and avoiding mistakes. This impulse can become toxic when a manager insists on being overly involved. In addition to being bad for productivity and morale, micromanaging is also bad for cultivating employee independence.
Be on the lookout for ways to give employees more autonomy. Resist the urge to give constant direction and criticism.
Make Room for Failure
Allowing staff members to fail doesn’t suggest throwing them into the deep end of the pool and hoping they learn how to swim. Instead, the objective should be to allow employees to make their own decisions, take risks and fail in low-stakes ways. Room to fail gives employees the chance to learn from mistakes and self-correct. This kind of learning is much more valuable and durable than learning by instruction in the long run.
Coach Through Questioning
Rather than rushing to provide your employees with all the answers, take a slower tactic and coach them through thoughtful questioning. Often, employees will already have possible solutions to their questions and are simply looking for confirmation. Other times, an employee will be able to come up with an effective solution after being gently prodded.
This kind of coaching stimulates critical thinking among your staff members, and it strongly promotes both learning and independence.
Encourage Career Development
Work together with your staff members to discover any experience or ability gaps and provide targeted training opportunities to address these gaps as quickly as possible. The more abilities that people can master, the more they can grow their role and beyond.
Prioritize Two-Way Communication
All of us learn and work better when we are given the full picture and the capability to share our own thoughts.
Good leaders maintain two-way communication openly, so that staff members can express concerns and share ideas that they think may improve performance, lower costs, or provide some other kind of benefit.
This not only helps employees feel more comfortable and independent, but it also gives you full access to their boots-on-the-ground insight.
Taking on employee insights then gives your people a stronger sense of ownership over the team’s success, which feeds into their own independence.
Occasionally, the best action you can take to spur independence is to step away from your staff, just for long enough to have them figure out a few things for themselves. Although this strategy ought to be used sparingly, it can be beneficial to pressure your people to take ownership while letting you observe how they react in the situation.
We Can Help Your Team Find Success
At NSC, we work with business leaders to help them and their teams achieve success. Please contact us today to find out how we can help you.