Give employees freedom, but continue to hold them accountable to promote a healthy environment of ownership, mutual respect, and productivity.
Nobody likes a hoverer. Especially not your employees.
But when it comes to your business, you have a responsibility to ensure things are getting done.
If you want to earn that “World’s Best Boss” title, you need to know the difference between holding employees accountable and micromanaging their every move.
In short, you gotta inspect what you expect effectively.
4 Ways To Inspect What You Expect
My dad always said the phrase, “Inspect what you expect.” And because my dad was the most influential person in my life growing up, I always carried this advice in the back of my mind.
Little did I know it would become the motto I lived by in business.
Choosing to inspect what I expect while also giving my employees (i.e., my co-workers) ownership of their jobs wasn’t always my knee-jerk reaction. Trust me when I say I’m a Type A personality. That means I’m inherently ambitious, competitive, and—you guessed it—controlling.
So yes, I had to keep myself in check, back off a little, and let my co-workers do their thing. My employees needed to grow and I needed to run my business. There was no way micromanaging would fit into my business model.
But, deciding not to micromanage doesn’t mean that the workplace is a free-for-all. My co-workers know what I expect from them, and they come up with their own innovative methods of getting things done. And yes, I make a point to check-in with them, answer any questions, and offer encouragement or guidance.
There are a number of benefits of saying no to micromanaging and yes to accountability. Inspecting what you expect:
- Gives employees the freedom to do tasks how they want
- Shows employees that their projects are important
- Verifies workers are getting things done
- Makes sure you and your employees are on the same page
- Catches potential problems and highlights challenges
- Streamlines future processes
From my workplace to yours, here are some ways to inspect what you expect … without being that dreaded helicopter boss.
1. Delegate Tasks
You can’t inspect what you expect if you just do it for your employees. Your first step in the inspection process is to give yourself something to inspect—by letting go and delegating.
To delegate, make sure your employees understand their roles. And if you don’t have clearly defined positions, responsibilities, and objectives, you need to do a little legwork first.
Define your employees’ positions and responsibilities. Then, convey how your employees’ roles fit into the greater scheme of your business.
How do you do this, you ask? Cast your vision. Create a vision statement that employees can reference while doing their tasks. Having a vision statement helps employees set goals and come up with innovative processes that align with your business’s vision.
Once your employees know their roles and how they fit into your business’s overarching vision, delegate and go away.
2. Have Results-Sharing Discussions
After letting your employees do their thing, circle back around and see what they’ve done.
There are a number of ways your employees can share what they’ve done, including:
- 1:1 meetings
- Team stand-ups
- Performance reviews
Done right, having results-sharing discussions can pinpoint issues and praise innovation. Done wrong, having results-sharing discussions can be a huge waste of time.
At my company, we do a mix of all four of these discussions. I know you’re thinking, But Mike! That’s a lot of meetings! And although it may look like a lot of meetings, it’s not as much as you think.
Many of the managers at Patriot Software have a weekly 1:1 meeting with each member in their department. Most of these meetings last 10 minutes. A 1:1 meeting is a private conversation that lets managers touch base with their employees to find out what’s going right and wrong and how they can help.
A stand-up meeting is a quick discussion that typically takes place between a manager and their entire team. The team shares what they’re working on and what they’ve completed. And yes, everybody stands during the stand-up. Most departments have this daily at Patriot (around 20 minutes, tops).
Sit-down meetings can be a bit longer than the 1:1s and stand-ups. But generally, these aren’t longer than one hour. A lot of my teams do monthly meetings to go over department goals. The teams explain processes they’ve used to reach their goals, where they fell short, and where they excelled.
Ah, and I can’t forget about good old performance reviews. These are classic results-sharing discussions that are standard in most businesses. Managers and employees privately discuss things that have gone well and not so well on the job.
3. Make Yourself Available
These “inspections” I speak of aren’t always these big, formal events. Sometimes, they’re quick questions employees ask you about what they’re working on.
Which is why you need to make yourself available.
Show employees you don’t just emerge from your office once every month to inspect their work. Get in the trenches with them, keep your door open, and encourage constant communication.
Another way you can make yourself available is by setting up a system that employees can use to share questions, comments, and concerns as things come up.
You don’t always have to be physically available, either. Recently, we started using continuous performance management (CPM) software. So far, so good!
CPM is a system that connects employees with other workers as well as their managers. Through the system, workers can streamline sharing things like their top priorities for the upcoming weeks, challenges, etc.
4. Use Metrics To Quantify Objectives
Regardless of an employee’s position, there are always ways to incorporate metrics into your inspection process. Metrics are a great way to see how an employee is doing with their work.
Plus, metrics give you concrete evidence to back up whether something is working or needs to be tweaked. Whether it’s your sales, marketing, or customer support team, taking metrics into consideration is a must.
Some metrics you can use to inspect what you expect include:
- Number of signups or sales
- Increased revenue
- Length of time it takes employees to complete projects
- Number of positive new reviews
- Number of negative new reviews
- Higher click-throughs (e.g., emails)
- Retention rate