Have you ever experienced one of those days with constant interruptions? People keep popping in looking for your decision on things that were clearly in their realm of accountability. They wait to get a decision from you rather than making the call on their own. Sometimes they don’t tell you they’re waiting, and progress slows until it becomes an issue. When this used to happen to me, I always helped. And, often, after that, I found myself traveling down the “how do I fix this” rabbit hole, getting even further distracted.
It’s easy to look at the person at your office door and wonder why they’re even asking. In that moment, remind yourself that this issue really is a two-way street. Sure, the employee has a responsibility to work with you in a productive way. However, you’re on the hook for setting explicit expectations. I am not referring to those “leave me alone when my office door is closed” kind of expectations. It’s more about what that person understands they are accountable for, and what decisions they have been empowered to make. Are you thinking – “I gave them a job description when they started. Isn’t that enough?” The easy answer is no. It wasn’t enough.
There are two major ingredients for raising confidence and empowering your employees to take things on independently. A simple description of their job, and consistent repetition. Go back to those job descriptions and make a streamlined working version. Lose the long sentences and big concepts. Make it simple and easy to understand. Remember, these will be read in context, so you don’t have to spell everything out from the ground up. They will get it. Then, set the expectation. Start with a quick meeting to get you both on the same page. Help them to see the big picture and how the pieces fit together. Next time they look to you for a decision or approval, repeat, repeat, repeat. Make it consistent and clear that this is a part of their job to solve.
People crave consistency and direction from their leaders. If you give them that, they will thank you. The awesome side effect is that a more confident culture leads to higher efficiency and more time for you.