Self-audits are wonderful. Review a list of things you should be doing, and see where you come up short.
But I really like negative self-audits. These are things you should not be doing.
A popular negative self-audit is making the rounds, and I cringed a few times as I read it. 10 Ways You Are Making Your Staff Less Productive (The Fast Track) is a must read for anyone who manages others. Here are some of my favorite “sins.”
- Being a bottleneck that prevents your staff from moving work forward.Do you insist on approving every minor detail or a project when you have experienced, competent employees who could easily handle those details themselves? Or maybe you really do need to approve work, but it sits in your in-box for weeks because you’re swamped with other things (or, dare we say it, less organized than you should be). Whatever the reason, if you’re acting as a bottleneck and keeping your staff from being able to drive work forward, it’s a sign that something needs to change – either you need to give them more authority to act without your approval or you need to reallocate your time so that you’re able to get them what they need without unreasonably long delays.
John Spence has a clever way of delegating responsibility for decisions… his 4-level decision making system. You should check it out when you get a chance.
- Not truly delegating responsibilities.Too often, managers use their staffers as “helpers” to the manager, rather than giving them real ownership and responsibility. This leaves the manager bearing the burden of spotting what needs to be done and assigning the work, and leaves staff members feeling that they’re only responsible for executing the specific tasks the manager assigns and aren’t empowered to act more broadly. It’s the difference between asking your assistant to make sure there are enough pads and pens in the conference room for an upcoming meeting versus telling her that she is in charge of all logistics for the meeting. If you tell her the latter, she might notice that while there are enough pads and pens, there’s trash all over the room and the speaker phone isn’t working – and fix those things proactively. (Bonus: Most employees will be happier with broader responsibilities than just executing individual tasks.)
I urge you to read the article for yourself, as it gives eight other ways you can choke the productivity out of your people. And I’ll make this wager…if you read the article, you’ll find at least one thing you’re currently doing to hinder productivity.