Jeff's Blog

Listen and trust: The power of collaborative management

Like many business owners, you may find yourself accustomed to running the show. But I've found that as our company has grown, I am better off sharing responsibility for major decisions. Whether it's with experienced managers that we've recruited or "home grown" talent, here's how I've been able to empower my employees by taking a more collaborative approach to management.

Team members, not employees

Successful collaboration starts with a new mindset. Stop thinking of your managers as employees and instead regard them as team members working toward the same common goals. To promote collaboration and make the best use of your human resources, clearly communicate your strategic objectives. For example, if you've prioritized expanding into new territories, make sure your managers aren't still focusing on extracting new business from current sales areas.

You also must be willing to listen to your managers' ideas - and to act on the viable ones. Relinquishing control can be hard for business owners, but keep the advantages in mind. A collaborative approach distributes the decision-making burden, so it doesn't fall on just your shoulders. This may relieve stress and allow you to focus on areas of the company you may have neglected.

Confidence and development

Even as you move to a more collaborative management model and include employees in strategic decisions, don't forget to recognize their individual skills and talents. You and other managers may have uncertainties about a new marketing plan, for instance, but you should trust your marketing director to carry it out with minimal oversight.

To ensure that managers know they have your confidence, conduct regular performance reviews where you note their contributions and accomplishments and explore opportunities for growth. Moreover, help them grow professionally by providing constructive, ongoing training to develop their leadership and teamwork skills.

An open mind

As you learn to trust your management team with greater responsibility, keep in mind that the process can be bumpy. In a crisis, your instinct may be to take charge and brush off your managers' advice. Although we generally do not have crisis situations in a CPA firm, I have found out it is important in the long run for our leaders and department heads to have a sense of empowerment in their decision making. While micro-managing may or may not have short-term benefits, the long-term benefit of allowing leaders to make decisions without second guessing are significant and crucial to their success.