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How To Stop Micro-Managing Your Team, Confidently

Michelle Dale - Monday, March 04, 2013

Expanding into a Virtual Team can be both exciting and stressful. Hiring support gives us a feeling that we're breaking into another level, moving forward and progressing with things, and then we find that often times we end up working even harder as we expand further because we micro-manage everyone and everything.

I had a mentorship call this morning with someone who took my VA Apprentice programme. The programme was able to quickly launch her business into a successful VA company, with this brought a fast expansion of team members and then - overwhelm. She was constantly being interrupted throughout the day, and despite appointing a team leader, was finding that was taking even more precious time away from her clients and her marketing.

Here is the advice I gave her...

1. Appoint a Wingman.

The first thing you need to do is find a wingman, someone to be a team leader so you end up managing one or just a small handful of people depending on the size of your business. Then these people help manage the team.

2. Divert the team.

Explain to the team that they need to approach your wingman (obviously call them by their name and not wingman - for the sake of this post we'll say their name is wingman) with everything they would normally have approached you with relating to their work.

3. Begin the listing.

Your Wingman will need to sort their work/dilemmas/questions they are asked into 2 lists.

List 1: Items they know they can handle.
List 2: Items they believe they cannot handle.

On list one, your Wingman will need to write down (or explain to you in the morning meeting coming up next) how they would handle the issues.

On list 2, these are saved for the next step.

4. Morning Meeting.

Each morning before work commences you have a morning meeting with your Wingman to review how they would handle things, and the things they couldn't handle - you'll do this each morning for the next week.

On list one, you'll let the wingman know if they should do something differently to what they outlined/told you they would do, this is part of the training process of handing over how you would like things handled. It's also a good demonstration of your wingman's initiative. If they do well, give lots of praise and positive feedback.

On list two, you'll walk your wingman through what needs to be done at each point. The wingman then goes and actions all the items from the previous day.

5. Priority/Emergency.

During this training period there will be a 24 hour (or so) delay to responses, make sure the clients are aware if anything is being referred, also don't run a risk - if it's a priority client, or there's a deadline, or something important, you must be notified immediately, in these cases, the wingman can be bypassed or the wingman must notify you instantly if there's a problem.

6. Boundaries.

The next thing you must do is set some boundaries. You must be there for your team and for your clients and for your own business. Generally, last on the list is your business. Set aside times of the day or week, where you're not to be disturbed except in emergencies, for example, daily between 1pm and 3pm you focus on your marketing and only your marketing, switch off all distractions, set your Skype to Do Not Disturb, leaving a mood message "Only In Emergencies"

If you want to have time to fit everything in, you need to be ruthless with the way you schedule your time, and don't spread yourself too thin.

The Results.

After about a week of your Wingman consistently showing evidence that they can handle list one, hand everything over to them, and eliminate list one from your meetings. Let them do their job, let them do what you hired them to do. You may have to handle the odd hiccup, but with each hiccup, comes a new lesson, and improvement.

List two will begin to dwindle away on a daily basis as they become more experienced. You'll then be able to switch to weekly meetings, or even monthly.

The most important thing you need to have is someone you can trust, the most important thing you need to give to them, is your trust. Then you'll begin to have a much healthier life and business.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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