Trust and Empower

In response to all the questions I've been getting, I've been posting a lot about myself. Please feel free to respond or leave a comment and make it a discussion instead of a monologue about me!

"What's my management style?" My flip answer is you don't really manage people*. My more serious answer is that I strive to trust and empower.

  • Trust people to do the right thing. Trust them to have good ideas. To want to make the project, organization, team or company successful. Trust them. They want to do good.
  • Empower them. Make sure they know you trust and believe in them and give them what they need to execute on their great ideas. Maybe it's a computer, or a person to bounce ideas off of, or help convincing others, or some space, or fun people to work with, or a better understanding of what the company is trying to do … My very first manager at HP came to me one day and said "Stormy, what can I do for you? What can I do to make you more effective?" (I responded with "go to my meetings for me" and he said ok!) I've kept that in mind ever since. A manager's job is to make their team effective.

And then circle back around. It's not enough to say "I trust you" and throw a bunch of money at them. They might not know what to do with the money – they might need some help. (Or they might be in the wrong job – one they don't believe in.) And you need to know enough so that you can convince upper management that your team is doing a good job and everyone should let them keep working on their great ideas.

People get hung up on whether managers delegate well or not. Delegating does not equal managing. (Not delegating can equal bad management, but delegating isn't managing.) If someone is having trouble delegating, one of two things is up.

  • The first is simple, they just might not know how to delegate. This is easy to fix. If you want to learn to delegate, grab someone whose management style you admire and ask them to sit in on a meeting you are running. And either during the meeting or after, have them point out places you could have delegated.
  • The second reason people don't delegate is a bit more complicated. It's lack of trust. Either lack of trust that the other person will do it "right." Or lack of trust that people will actually believe they are doing anything useful if they are delegating everything to other people. However, if you trust and empower, your team will not question whether or not you are working. They'll love you and they'll get lots done and so your manager will love you. But it's a leap of faith in the beginning.

There are often complicated and valid reasons people don't trust others. Sometimes you "know" you can do it better or faster or easier. You can read more about how it's hard to delegate at Why you shouldn't do it all yourself.

So that's my "management" style. What's yours?

* Seriously, if you are a manager, the word "manager" should not show up any where in your resume except in your title. "Managing people" is not something you get paid to do. You get paid to make things happen.