I’m A Driving Instructor, Not A Back Seat Driver

Effective management techniques trickle down to your employees like water in a fountain.

Effective management techniques trickle down to your employees like water in a fountain.

My fiance’s foot surgery was a little more than a month ago and we’re looking out towards a long road to recovery.  It has been extremely difficult for me to adjust to his temporarily limited ways of going through his day.  I find myself just wanting to do everything for him, but I am starting to realize that that makes him feel as if he’s not independent.  There is a really fine line between waiting on him and not helping him enough and I’m having trouble finding it.

I think I find it to be most difficult since I can see that things would be accomplished faster if I helped or just did it for him and that reminds me a bit of my work life right now.  In October I returned to a place that has union contracts and I’ve had to make the adjustment to understanding that I can’t always jump in and do things myself.  Being a manager who’s always been able to fully use my initiative and drive, this adjustment has been quite difficult for me to swallow.

I think a bit of that difficulty comes from being a Stage Manager in my past and knowing that during the day-to-day operations of my productions I was the one at the helm and fully in control.  Now I realize that I’m in control, but I’m learning that I can’t always be the one to step in and correct situations as I have front line employees who themselves are learning by me giving them the chance to do things.  This is one of the largest differences between working for a company that is more like a small family and one that is a massive entity.

Each day I approach work reminding myself that by me taking a step back I’m giving my employees the chance to grow.  For a lot of type A personalities, like myself, this is a struggle but an important item to remember.  If we continue to always step in during times of crisis and solve the problem ourselves then what happens the day we can’t be there?  Give your employees a chance to grow so that in your absence they feel empowered and know that they can handle anything that might come their way.

Now this doesn’t mean I take a backseat and let someone else always drive, but it does mean that I think of myself more as a driving instructor. I have a second set of controls in front of me just in case of an emergency, but I’m letting the student driver take hold of the wheel and navigate for a change.  It also gives me an opportunity to see any holes in the overall training process that might need to be brought up and reevaluated.  While it might be hard to hand over the keys, and trust me I fully understand the challenge it creates for those of us who like always being in control, but know you are building a stronger team each time you take a step back and allow them to drive for a change.

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