Stress-free summer: How to empower your team so you can really relax

Summer is here, but many leaders struggle to switch off from their responsibilities and have a proper holiday break. Can you confidently leave your team to run the ship while you relax?

As a leader, you may have fallen into the traditional ‘command-and-control’ habit of directing, solving, fixing and firefighting. On a typical busy day, you’re repeatedly called upon by your team to take action, solve immediate problems, or answer questions on the fly. But as a result, you find yourself bogged down by doing the problem-solving for others, which in turn is creating an environment where your team relies on your input, running every problem past you before taking action. Then when it comes for you to take a break, your team lacks the confidence to handle the day-to-day issues without your guiding hand. 

The best way for you to be able to let go of the reins to recharge this summer is to build the internal resilience of your team, nurturing their confidence to become solution-driven, independent problem solvers. Here’s how you can achieve this: 

Start asking more powerful questions

When your team comes to you with problems that they’re facing, you must learn to resist the urge to fix and provide solutions for them based on your own experience. 

Instead, learning to adapt your style of behaviour and developing the ability to ask insightful questions designed to stimulate each employees’ own thinking will help them to work through issues and find solutions themselves. As a manager, you are still responsible for the outcome, but by growing your team’s confidence to become independent problem-solvers rather than just ‘telling’ them what to do, you are creating a shared ownership of that outcome.

This provides the opportunity for continual personal and professional development that benefits the employee, in turn making them more efficient in the face of change and more driven in their role, even while you’re away. 

Using this enquiry-led approach is a powerful way of stimulating deeper reflection, tapping into better quality thinking that generates valuable ideas and innovations that each employee can bring to the team. 

Get better at giving appreciative feedback 

Focus on catching people doing things well. Giving feedback is often associated with challenging conversations as we try to share something that we want people to improve upon.

Most of us can recall at some point in our careers having been on the receiving end of feedback that perhaps wasn’t handled particularly well. Consequently, it’s the one form of conversation that most leaders dread and, let’s all be honest, typically try to avoid. Looking for those opportunities to give appreciative feedback, however, flips the whole approach on its head. 

Instead of looking out only for what we want others to fix about their behaviour, deliberately looking for where someone has utilised a particular behaviour or strength that we’d like to see more of can offer a perfect opportunity for us to draw their attention to what went well in a particular situation. Giving appreciative feedback, in flow, reinforces positive behaviour. Pointing out the behaviours that people are using that are making the difference to the outcomes being achieved, and even celebrating those, is a great way to build or strengthen new habits in others and see faster improvements. 

And it requires a lot less energy than trying to fix people’s perceived weaknesses.

When you practise an enquiry-led approach with team members rather than exercising your typical command-and-control style, and you proactively praise behaviours that reinforce an employee’s thinking and problem solving, they will start to come to you consistently with solutions instead of problems. You’ll be able to set off for summer with the peace of mind that your team will flourish while you’re away. Not only that, but you’ll get valuable time back when you return, spending less time firefighting and more time focusing on the higher-value aspects of your role – extending that holiday feeling. 

Dominic Ashley-Timms
Dominic Ashley-Timms

Share via
Copy link