A Minimalist Approach to People Management

In the fast-paced corporate world we live in, fed by ever-evolving technology and the new appetite for instant gratification and instant results we must learn to manage people in a way that allows us as managers to be as efficient and effective as possible.

The changing world has seen a shift in focus. We are now realising the importance of minimalism to remain mindful and present in our day to day lives. The management of people is no different in terms of what it demands mentally, emotionally and sometimes (although worryingly) physically. Here are some approaches to management that will help you to take a more minimalistic approach.

Empower your team

Every motivational speaker who discusses management will tell you about empowering your team. And I am no different. But what does it mean? How do you do it? 

To achieve less stress on yourself you need to definitely let go and delegate but if you are like I once was you will always fall back on an old statement:

If I let someone else do this, it’ll come back with more problems that I will need to fix! So it’s just easier for me to do it myself” 

The Minimal Manager

I used to believe that, until it, all became too much and I burnt out. I learnt that I was not helping the people I was mentoring and managing by not exposing them to the same pressures, responsibility and ownership that I have.

The most effective way I found to manage people was to trust them wholly with the tasks at hand and support them through the decision making process and the direction. If it went pair shaped own the solution together with yourself backing the resolution rather than leading it. Unless the company will implode or lose millions anything is addressable and fixable and at the end of it, you’ll have someone who has more confidence and understanding. 

If they succeed than even better, they will understand more about what it takes to succeed. 

If you are nervous to hand over everything with a process, do it in pieces, so work together allocating out completely segments of what is needed whilst you can pull it all back together, always sharing the bigger picture with whoever you are delegating to.

An example could be, you have a report or presentation to deliver. You could farm out part of that presentation including presenting itself to your team member. If you aren’t at that stage build up to it by allocating the slides and gathering of materials with clear instructions to your team members and then share the entire presentation and get them to sit in on the presentation to see how their work fuelled the final product.

Share the Bigger Picture Always

As managers, sometimes it’s easy to delegate without spending the necessary time to explain the “why”. When we are pressed for time delegating can mean we feel we need to deliver the delegation hurriedly. The issue with this is that when we do not give people the context of what they are doing, where it fits in the big picture and why they must deliver work that is not as good quality or out of context. Taking the time to share the bigger picture, why the work is important, how it contributes to the success of the project, company, etc. means that we are entrusting people with information that we have, that we are moving on the same playing field and that we are equally invested in the work. 

Doing this, again an upfront investment, will pay off moving forward as people will start to own the work with you, own the problems with the team and share their thoughts, innovation and their value.

Avoid Micromanaging

Trying to control for every outcome is impossible. Trying to avoid problems can be beneficial but experiencing problems and resolving them can be extremely beneficial. We’ve all learnt the best lessons in life by making mistakes. Empower your people to be comfortable to do the same work you do and you will grow immensely, as will they. 

It is always a worry to let go and trust someone else at first but without this, you cannot grow yourself as a manager and you cannot also manage the workload. Giving others responsibility is a big part of managing well and minimally. 

Set Clear Expectations

The way to let go is to first be very clear on your expectations. Be prepared to state very clearly what you want in terms of output and quality related to the work. Next, be clear what you want the person to take ownership of versus what you want them to check with you. An example might be that you want them to own conversations with certain stakeholders but check with you before they finalise any changes or communications. 

Be very clear about the level of quality you expect but also allow the resource to check in with you at regular intervals to sound these out. Schedule these check-ins at a consistent time that works for you so the conversations are not ad-hoc. Tell the resource to be prepared for that meeting so that it doesn’t turn into an open-ended conversation, but that there is a clear presentation of material and actionable items to talk through.

Be Patient – Failure Is Okay

One thing that will allow you to lead right, grow as a manager and will allow your team to grow, is to be patient.

We all need time to learn, we all need time to improve. Failures are going to happen, many of them. The most important thing for yourself to know and for your team members is to know that is okay to make mistakes but only if you learn from them. 

We all learn through our mistakes. Our best lessons are learnt through mistakes. Sometimes this can be daunting and feel like it is insurmountable but everything can be overcome. Breed an environment that embraces failure and promotes improvement, and you will breed an environment that encourages great leadership. 

Don’t rush the result. Give yourself and your team the time to get there. 

Take time for you

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

When it is all said and done and the office lights turn off and you are the last to stroll out the door, you need to remember that if you aren’t in a good place emotionally and mentally then anything you try to achieve will fail. We often manifest our personal feelings into our interactions, our conversation and our leadership.

It is important to remember to look after yourself. If you take good care of yourself you know you can take good care of your team, your company, your colleagues, your initiatives.

No matter what the work, if it’s valuable and worth doing, most likely it’ll always be there and no matter how much you finish there is always more to do. Take a breath. Take a holiday. Take time to go for a walk. 

We are all human, whether we are the 20-year-old intern or a 55-year-old CEO and we all need to make sure we take the time to look after our physical, emotional and mental health. 

Do this and you will be a better leader than you could imagine.

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