Why I never micromanage

Trust that your team will help you reach new heights.

Trust is the difference between the best bosses and the worst ones. Trust can make or break relationships, projects, or whole businesses. It’s what really separates micromanagers from true leaders.

The hard thing about trust is that it’s not inherent. We’re not born with trust. No one is an inherently trustworthy person. It’s something that must be earned slowly and from scratch on every new team and by every new team member. We earn it with our actions, not our words. But when you trust your team and your team trusts you, amazing things can happen.

Trust is good leadership

Being a leader means knowing that your job is not about you. It’s not about finding a team who can make you look good.

A lot of managers get the process of building trust completely backwards. When a new hire starts, I do everything in my power to earn their trust, not the other way around. If you’re my new team member, it shouldn’t be just on you to prove to me how great you are. It’s just as much a trial period for me as it is for you.

Don’t get it backwards: you must earn the trust of your team before you can expect them to earn yours.

If I can’t create an environment that is safe and trusting, then I have failed to do my job and I have failed my team. Ultimately, your job is to help your employees. You’re there to clear a path for them to accomplish their goals by offering support and removing obstacles. In order to do that, you need to get know them. Spend time with them. Learn how they work. Listen to them, support them, and give them the tools and resources they need. And most of all, you need to trust them enough to get out of their way.

If someone makes a mistake, that’s my fault, too. I create a safety net for people to be who they are and to take calculated risks without fearing the consequences. If someone really screws up, they know it was their mistake deep down and they they won’t do it again. We don’t need to make a big deal out of it. I put myself in their shoes. We’re a team in our successes, and we’re a team in our failures.

One of the benefits of creating a safe work environment is that your team can start to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. If you spend too much time with your weaknesses, you’ll amplify them. Amplify your strengths, instead. That’s how you find success.

Trust is good maths

From a source I’ve long since forgotten, I once heard that each person has about seven frames of reference, or seven perspectives with which they can approach a problem. If you have five people on your team, that’s 35 potential frames of reference. Suddenly, you’re five times more likely to find a creative solution.

But if you micromanage, that’s your seven frames of reference just spread out over the other team members. Rather than adding to the creative process, you’re stifling it.

Another way to look at it is this: say you have 100 things you think need to get done. If you assign 100 specific things to a team member, they are going to do those 100 things, but no more than that. You’ve told them exactly what success looks like rather than challenging them to discover it themselves. If you just give them a goal and ask them to take a crack at it in their own way, they might do the one thing that sets off a chain reaction of 1000 amazing things.

For example, Intrepid Travel was recently featured in the news after we sent an Etch-a-Sketch artist to India and she chronicled her adventures using her unique art form. Could I have ever predicted this? Would I have ever said, “Hey Joni, go out and find a partnership with an Etch-a-Sketch artist?” Absolutely not. But when you bring minds together, the result is far more hilarious and wonderful than you could ever come up with on your own.

The more trust, the safer the environment, the higher you’ll climb.

Trust is good business

Trust isn’t just some word you throw around. Building a team with trust is actually really good for business, too. Happy employees are more productive, more engaged, and they do better work. That leads to more profit. At Intrepid Group, this year to date we’ve grown 15 percent and are on track for a record year in the North American market. Our staff satisfaction is also up to a record high according to our eNPS scores. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these two growth tracks are in sync.

Happy employees go out and tell their friends how happy they are, and that makes recruiting a lot easier. You can’t control what your team is going to say outside of work, you have to trust that they’re being good ambassadors. And if they like their job and they like you as a leader, they’re going to spread the good word.

Not to mention, this generation seems to job hop more than previous ones. Creating a work environment where people are personally invested in the overall success of the team means people are going to want to stay longer. Again, this all comes down to the real job of a leader: to be there for your team. To ensure their satisfaction and their success.

It’s like Richard Branson says, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”