3 Ways to Improve Your Executive Team Without Micromanaging

Founder and President of Princeton Proper. Gwendolyn also serves as a member of SMB Experts, an Oracle-sponsored panel comprised of today’s SMB thought leaders.

When I ask my small business clients the toughest lesson they learned after starting a business, the most common answer I receive is: “I learned that I can’t do everything on my own.” They learned the hard way that they needed to delegate and that they needed a good team to delegate to.

According to John C. Maxwell, internationally recognized leadership expert, “If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself.  If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” Delegating and using the talent around you is an important step on your journey to grow your business.  I often hear from my clients that their success is very much linked to the work that they have accomplished as a team and have noticed firsthand that when leaders work in a vacuum, they are not nearly as effective as when they are utilizing their teams.

Delegating is not a topic many business owners want to discuss; it is never easy to take something you have worked hard on for years and entrust others to carry your work forward. But, it is necessary. Delegation empowers your leadership team and enables you to focus on work that is more strategic and less tactical.

Here are three tips to help you lead with authority in order to boost morale, engagement, and profitability:

1. Set Clear Expectations

The beginning of the year is the best time to create goals. Start by bringing your entire team together to reconnect on the organization’s mission and goals. You can use this time to establish clear goals, commitment, and action items for every member of the executive team. These meetings are most effective when everyone can be present, and there is an element of team building included.  One important agenda item for this meeting is to review past successes and challenges. Understanding successes and common hurdles will inform your future work and strategy. This meeting is designed to set the tone for the year and motivate your team through proactive discussions and team building. If one person leaves the meeting with more tasks than anyone, something is wrong—get everyone involved.

2. Focus on Outcomes and Always Check In

As a business owner, it is easy to get caught in the process but remember that you have hired great people. Allow them to take ownership on how they will drive the outcome for key deliverables. Your focus should be eliminating roadblocks and driving the overall strategy.

Create ways for your leadership team to connect on a regular basis. This can be through email, in-person meetings, or video conferences. Not only will everyone better understand the status of projects, but consistent meetings also give everyone an opportunity to learn from other leadership team members. Team meetings should also be followed by consistent one-on-one meetings where you can talk about the details of various projects. Remember, the objective is not to take on additional work, but to understand how you can be helpful to the process and provide guidance. To avoid micromanaging, consider having organic conversations with your employees rather than scripted meetings. Allow your leadership team members to drive their one-on-ones and own the conversation.

3. Recognize Your Team

When I ask my clients, “What is the most fulfilling aspect of your entrepreneurial journey?,” many of them mention recognizing employees for their hard work on behalf of the company. Milestones that are accomplished, both big and small, should always be celebrated.   Find ways that fit with your business culture to highlight the work of your leadership team and other employees, such as:

  • Provide a spotlight on your colleagues’ success stories on your company website or blog.
  • Create a section for success stories in your company’s annual report so that investors, customers, and suppliers are aware of the victories on your team.
  • Make time in your staff meetings for employees to talk about their successes and share best practices with the team.
  • Create a gift card recognition program to award employee success with a coffee or other small treat.