Managing Employees

For More Results, Make the Switch to a Minimalist Managerial Style

For More Results, Make the Switch to a Minimalist Managerial Style
Image credit: JD Hancock | Flickr
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There’s a management problem in the working world today: there’s too much of it.

Management, in theory, is a tool for improving productivity. The reality is that too much management can actually damage your overall output. As an example, asking your workers for progress updates multiple-times-daily feels like you are keeping yourself abreast of the latest developments, but in actuality, it’s distracting your workers from getting the real work done.

An excess of management has stymied growth in many industries, but minimalist managerial styles can make good on their theoretical utility for increasing performance. The minimalist style capitalizes on only the most essential functions of management, eliminating the unnecessary practices that get in the way of successful work.

Implementing a minimalist managerial style can be challenging, especially if you’re accustomed to a deeper, more hands-on approach. However, if you plan your approach carefully and start phasing in new tactics one at a time, you can totally restructure your entire management style and start motivating your employees more efficiently.

Measure performance in results.

The foundation of a minimalist managerial style is in the philosophy. Traditional management is all about measuring an employee’s performance based on how he/she is executing the tasks at hand. For example, if a worker is seen coming in late or taking too many breaks, it’s the manager’s job to step in and ask the employee to work more diligently.

However, a minimalist managerial style is all about measuring performance based on their eventual results. If your employees are meeting their goals and accomplishing everything you wanted them to do, then their approach to that work makes no difference. Instead of looking at the steps an employee takes to get somewhere, focus more on where they’re going.

Related: Effective Employee Management? Look to the Golden Rule.

Cut back on meetings.

Meetings are major productivity killers. A daily half-hour meeting may not seem like a big deal to you but you have to multiply that time spent by the number of people in the meeting. If there are five of you, that comes to two and a half hours a day, or twelve and a half hours of wasted work every week. Consider also the fact that preparing for meetings or jumping into meetings can interrupt your employee’s train of thought, and in most meetings, one or more participants end up sitting idle anyway.

Make your meetings truly count, and cut back on them wherever you can. You’ll find that much more work gets done.

Allow work-from-home days.

There’s an irrational fear of letting employees work from home. The mentality behind this fear is that once at home, your employees will slack off or get distracted by whatever entertainment is nearby. But if you measure performance based on results, then you have nothing to worry about. You’ll be able to tell if your employees are working, and your employees know it. You won’t be able to see exactly what they’re doing between 10:00 and 10:15, but you’ll know they got something done. Working from home demonstrates a mutual trust and gives your employees more power to work in the ways that are best for them.

Related: 5 Ways Telecommuting Saves Employers Money

Trust, but verify.

Trust is important in working relationships. If you trust your employees and your employees trust you, the fears, anxieties, and stresses that can get in the way of meaningful work all begin to disappear. Trust that your employees are doing their jobs and getting things done. If you can’t trust that, you’ve either hired the wrong employees or you have major control issues. Once an appropriate amount of time has passed, simply verify that the work was done. Verification is a much easier process than micromanagement along the way.

Leadership comes first.

Remember, as a manager, your primary responsibility is to lead your team. Leaders make big decisions and set direction; they don’t get involved in the day-to-day execution of individual tasks. Take a step back from the daily work. If your employees need you, they’ll reach out. Instead, spend your energy setting a broad direction for the team, and let your expert employees sort out the rest on their own.

Minimalist managing isn’t for everyone, but it is a far more efficient way of running things overall. You’ll spend less time executing unnecessary tasks and holding unnecessary meetings, and your employees will have more time and be more willing to get their actual work done. If you aren’t sure about the long-term feasibility of the approach, try it out for a few weeks; you’ve got nothing to lose. If minimalist managing doesn’t meet your expectations, you can always go back to the old way of doing things.

Related: 7 Ways to Become a Better Leader