Trust Your People To Take the Right Path.
When you look at your employees, what do you see? Do you see living, thinking, breathing intelligent human beings, with the great capacity to learn new things, take on responsibilities, work autonomously, solve problems on their own volition, and work diligently to move the vision of the company forward, or as simple automatons who need to be told everything that needs to be done in great detail.
Do you see them as independent thinking people or cogs in the machine that is your enterprise? Sure, you may think that some of your people are the former and others are the latter, or that they all include both, depending on the work needs to be completed.
The question is – how do you – as a senior leader within your organization, consider your people? Would it surprise you to know that in the best, most well-run organizations, the former model prevails?
Most of the tech giants here in Silicon Valley subscribe to the first model.
If you feel that you are leaning more toward the second model, maybe the reason is that you haven’t structured your company from that perspective. If you assume that your employees need to be controlled at most times, to be given instructions and tracked in their actions, then are you really treating them like human beings, able to reason, think independently and take actions to better the company?
You are probably thinking – of course, we can’t do that – if we did that our people would have no idea what to do and our company would just crash and burn to the ground. Or maybe you are thinking that some of what I’m saying has some merit, but you couldn’t possibly see how it could work.
It’s not that hard. The process is simple.
Your employees need 3 things: a strong vision, most effectively delivered by a visionary leader (think Steve Jobs and Apple, or Elon Musk and his various companies), responsibility (tell them what they are expected to do) and then the freedom to go ahead and do it. Give them those 3 things, and your people will constantly surprise you with innovative new thinking in all areas. Don’t micromanage them, they are not children, but professional adults. Treat them as such.
This is the model that grew Netflix into a $150B+ company, which, believe it or not, exceeds the valuation of Disney. How did a small, scrappy company which started out by snail mailing DVDs to peoples homes build such a huge valuation, surpassing one of the worlds largest media companies?
Those 3 tenets above.
What is stopping you from doing the same? Your company has a vision, doesn’t it? Your company’s vision is clearly communicated to your employees by a visionary leader. Your employees are given the responsibility to do what they need to do to meet or exceed that vision. Finally, once these are in place, you give your employees the freedom to meet their responsibilities the way they see fit, leveraging their intelligent human brains to come up with innovative solutions to your biggest challenges, all aligned with your corporate vision.
Does this describe your company? Why not? If not, how do you need to change? Are you treating your people as adult humans or not?