Managers: How Can You Trust People to Work When You’re Not There?

Back when most people were working face to face, it wasn’t difficult for a manager to keep up with what their team members were doing. Their behavior was observable because everyone was generally together in one place almost every hour of the workweek.

Today is different. Lots of folks work from home regularly. Team meetings happen on computer screens, not in conference rooms. In some organizations, nearly everyone fits the category of “works without supervision” at least a few days a week. Managers have had to get used to delegating to their people regardless of whether they are comfortable doing it.

High control managers aren’t happy about this turn of events. They believe when people work remotely without a supervisor, they are likely to goof off, procrastinate, and generally take their work less seriously. Their productivity will suffer—and it will reflect badly on the leader.

But servant leaders and their organizations have had a distinct advantage since people began working remotely. Why? Because their people were already empowered to make decisions and perform just as well on their own as they did when their leader was present.

The real proof that you are a trusted servant leader is how your people perform when you are not around. They know you trust them and they want to live up to the standards you have demonstrated. It’s plain to see that in this environment, trust goes both ways.

Here are a few simple steps to helping your people feel more empowered, trusted, and confident in their work:

  • Work side by side with each person on your team to set specific, measurable, achievable goals.
  • Provide team members with the direction and support they need to accomplish their goals.
  • Communicate often so they know you care and that you are there if they need you.
  • Catch them doing things right, praise progress, and redirect them if they get off track.
  • Now step aside and watch them shine!

Trusting people to work on their own is easy when you empower them by setting goals together, praising or redirecting as needed, and keeping the lines of communication open. “The Most Important Part of Leadership Is What Happens When You’re Not There” is Simple Truth #44 in Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, my new book with Randy Conley. It’s on sale now at your favorite bookstore or online retailer. Download an eBook summary for a preview here!

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