woman-1594711_640Let’s pretend you just started a new job at a large marketing firm as a head of customer service. The first week, the CEO sits next to you every day. For 8 hours, you listen to her rattle on and on about how to answer phones “the right way.” On day one, you’re polite. You reassure yourself, “She must do this to everyone. It’s like some form of initiation, right?” But, a few more days go by, and now you’re irritated. You feel insulted. Can’t she just let you do your job?

Unfortunately, this situation is quite common, especially in a corporate atmosphere.

Should the CEO hover over the customer service team? No way. In an ideal world, there’s little communication between these two parties. There’s an expectation set. Both then work together like a well oiled machine to meet internal goals. The CEO shouldn’t be following around the CSR like white on rice. It’s annoying and unproductive.

Nothing good can come of management having too much of a hand in line level tasks. On the surface, it discourages employees. It’s a true example of poor leadership. But, underneath all the irritation, it takes management away from their own daily duties. Wait, you mean to say — management’s job isn’t to just manage employees? Nope. That’s only the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re starting to observe these poor habits in your leadership tendencies, keep scanning. Focus on letting go of line level tasks with these step by step instructions.

First, lead by example.

You must first know how to walk the talk. Learn how to do the task yourself. As a matter of fact, master it. Show a new CSR how to own the phone. But, approach it with a “first time’s the charm” mentality. Don’t torture them with 30 calls. There is such a thing as learning on the job, and it actually proves to be effective.

This will then help you set a standard for expected results. When showing employees how it’s done, the proof will be in your actions. Instead of throwing new hires a 20 page document about “how to answer phones,” just show them. Your actions will set an expectation for phone time moving forward.

Remember, people need structure.

Don’t just drift off into magical management land, never to be heard from again. Schedule regular check ins. Depending on your industry, once a week stand ups might apply. If you work in more of a hands off environment, shoot for once a month. No matter what, stay focused at these check ins. Avoid special treatment. This is about you holding people accountable. The best workplaces avoid the “he said, she said” (or sometimes he did, she did) conundrum. They handle problems in a one on one environment.

Incentives work.

Incentives make people want to do more. Like it or not, they can take your organization from good to great. If people don’t get an extra reward, they’ll just do bare minimum. That might be ok if you’re just trying to “get by,” but is that what you really want? Inspire employees with an above average reward system.

Let people be themselves.

Everyone works differently. Respect that. Some people like to crank out their to dos in the first hour. Others might spend the first half of the day simply getting organized. Respect different work environments. Maybe Susan from web development functions best in a cluttered atmosphere. If that’s how she remains the most productive, let her be. Don’t force your work habits on others, as this will actually damage morale.

Leadership isn’t always easy, but guess what? It can be learned. If you want to be a manager that earns respect, boosts revenue, and heightens morals, focus on empowering people to be their best. Let go of line level tasks, and focus on “big picture” management.