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6 Tips to Help Your Team Be More Independent

One of the hardest skills to master is finding ways to help the people on your team learn to successfully tackle problems on their own. Many managers constantly complain that their reports need too much hand-holding. The truth is, those leaders are probably continuously bailing out their employees by doing the work themselves or getting too hung up on having them do things the same way they do. 

As a leader, you don’t want to create clones. Good managers know that everyone will benefit the more independent, and self-motivating the whole team becomes. Your goal should be to provide guidance while creating a learning environment that your team can confidently bring their best every day. 

Here are 6 tips to help guide your team to be more independent: 

  1. Coach through asking the right questions. 

Most tasks can be solved in multiple ways. Rather than jumping to tell your employee the answer to a situation, help them think through the best approach by reflecting back a question and see what solutions are already in their head. You can ask a guiding question such as, “Have you seen others have success solving it that way?” or “Have you considered _______?” Asking good questions can help your team come up with an even better solution. 

  1. Resist the urge to micromanage. 

It’s common for managers to try and ensure their newest additions feel supported, while also avoiding early slip-ups. Even with seasoned employees, there will also come a time their approach diverts from your own. Stepping in to micromanage the situation can be detrimental to an employee’s growth. If they aren’t negatively impacting a project, find ways to allow them space without constant direction. 

  1. Allow them to fail. 

You employees aren’t going to take any risks if they are too fearful to fail. Embrace failure by explaining that new responsibilities are learning experiences; some failure is expected and it’s okay. When mistakes happen, it’s an opportunity to talk about them and learn. If they feel supported, the learning will be far more valuable, and they’ll be motivated to try again. 

  1. Assign a mentor. 

 A mentor is someone who can relate to your employee by drawing from their own experience and offer meaningful advice and direction. For many new hires, a new position can feel daunting to navigate from a ground-level perspective. It’s often motivating to hear some perspective from someone who has been there before and is not your boss. 

  1. Encourage responsibility and opportunities for development. 

One of the most important things you can do as a manager is let your team know you want them, and more so expect them, to take personal responsibility for their work. Taking on their own responsibility will help them feel ownership and more invested in the work itself too. This can also open the door to new responsibilities and room for development. Offer up training for any skill gaps you identify. The more skills they master, and the more they can take ownership for their learning, the better.  

  1. Solicit feedback. 

It’s important your team knows that communication is a two-way street. Once they have some independent experience under their belt, ask for some feedback. It’s likely they have new ideas that would improve performance, lower expenses, or offer some other benefit. They might even have new ideas on how to better work together; it’s always an evolving process that can continuously improve.