Seventeen pieces of hardware. That's what's left over after hours spent struggling to assemble and install your Ikea floor-to-ceiling multimedia center. You should have waited until your familycame home to help. You didn't. Eventually, those extra items become a household joke. Every time a visitor comments on the console, the story concludes: "We're still waiting for the whole thing to collapse thanks to Mr. Do-It-Himself!"
Ikea furniture assembly fiascos are forgivable. Acting like a prima donna at work is less charming. As a leader, you may be tempted to handle a lot of tasks solo. This tendency is hurtful to the business and causes friction. Eventually, your employees will see you as an aloof lone wolf, and lone wolves don't foster collaboration.
The advantages of being a know-it-some
It can be hard for go-getters in supervisory positions to admit defeat. But being able to admit "I don't know it all" puts you in a powerful position. It indicates you understand your limitations and sets others up to support you with their strengths. In addition, reaching out to others maximizes everyone's expertise, avoiding wasted energy and resources by going straight to the individuals best suited to answer certain questions.
Teams with managers who listen and promote cross-pollination of ideas become loyal, committed tribes whose members learn to value one another. Over time, the teams evolve beautifully because no one is pointing fingers or trying to be the star. A leader may have a title, but the title doesn't come with omniscience. Ideally, it should come with the prescience to recognize that modern business requires collaboration instead of dictatorships.
Many people argue that take-charge boss behavior will always be a staple of corporate life. And under some conditions, making snap determinations makes sense. Yet most decisions can wait until employees can get a little skin in the game.
In fact, you'll struggle to do the following three things well if you don't have the involvement and backing of your team members.
1. Implementing a significant process change
If you make a surprise announcement of a major change that impacts the day-to-day roles of your staff, expect serious pushback and limited buy-in. Employees don't appreciate feeling like stepped-upon worker ants. On the other hand, team members who get the opportunity to channel and define changes will be more positive and excited to adopt new procedures or follow updated protocols.
To get employees on board, give them enough of a runway before you make a major change. Pitch your idea to a group of representatives from various departments, if not to the whole company. Be prepared to explain why you believe the change is necessary, backing up your statements with anecdotal and data-driven evidence. Elicit input and practice 360-degree listening skills. The more transparent and honest you are about what is coming and how your colleagues can help, the less friction you should experience on the big day.
2. Updating tech solutions
Consider yourself technically savvy? That's great, but you still shouldn't make unilateral decisions about new systems and software. "Research new technologies thoroughly before investing, and ask your subject matter experts for advice to ensure you're spending your money wisely," advises Vince Dawkins, president and CEO of Enertia Software. "Your employees on the front lines have information that could inform almost every decision that your leadership team makes."
The last thing you want to do is install a new platform that only bogs down your workers' processes and flows. Allow employees to envision the dream tech solutions that will tackle tough challenges. Have several conversations before coming to a conclusion to ensure voices are heard. Finally, understand how each new system will impact legacy ones you plan to keep.
3. Improving your training efforts
You could pore over scores of manuals and online gamified courses without getting close to knowing which ones to jettison or retain. Yet every team member who has undergone training can give you the straight scoop on gaps and problems. For instance, your Millennial-minded training approaches might not jibe with Gen X workers' needs. Or the training could be out of touch with what actually happens in real-world scenarios involving multiple departments. You'll never know until you ask.
Be ready for surprises when you request genuine feedback. Perhaps you never knew how confused employees were about logging in to your HR platform or how underwhelming your onboarding measures were. That's critical because the right onboarding can have long-term repercussions: 69% of employees are likely to stick with a company for at least three years if they've had a stellar onboarding experience. So get your employees' input on what would improve your onboarding and training processes. After making training updates based on clear goals, establish regular check-ins to boost compliance and improve impact.
Like some management decisions, smaller Ikea pieces can be tackled alone. But when a proposed initiative has big, long-term effects, always look for a helping hand--or several. That way, you won't be left with the sneaking suspicion that you forgot something important along the way.