I recently had coffee with a client who was looking for advice to improve the efficiency of her department.

There had been some upheavals, maternity leave, skills shortages and things had begun to fall off the rails. She felt she needed someone to step in and “just get the work done.”

Her focus was on finding experienced operational hands on manager who would dive in and run with the work and manage the team. Her focus was on efficiency so her GM would have peace of mind that there was an operational capable person at the helm – “We don’t want any more surprises”.

When the topic moved to issues around why the team wasn’t performing her stress was apparent.

“I honestly don’t have time to think about all that other stuff now. I just need to get the work done.”

As an Executive Coach working with professionals I am constantly aware of how easy it is for managers to start acting like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, constantly aware of how late they are, running to meet deadline after deadline and feeling an overwhelming need to go, go, go with no permission to rest. As an outsider, the tempo does seem much like the craziness of wonderland and yet from the inside it is all very serious.

I see many managers so wound up with efficiency of delivery, (meeting the deadline) that they gloss over the effectiveness of outcomes (measuring and meeting the objectives).

The staff are often caught up in the rush and tumble of change, responsible for getting the details right, yet never fully in the picture. Then in rushes the white rabbit again with a new plan and few directions, leaving the team even more frustrated and unsupported.

As a coach, one of the most challenging things I am faced with is providing feedback to a manger that the reason their department is not working effectively, is not necessarily due to poor staff skills (although there is always room for improvement).

The biggest reason is often due to the managers own inability to duplicate their own expertise within their team. They have not encouraged and shared their knowledge or allowed the team to think through and set up agreed systems and processes that allow the team to take charge and manage the pace of change when it occurs. And so the white rabbit continues to run alone.

Here are some suggestions for duplicating your expertise within your team:

Objective: To create self managed department with leader/s that can think independently, adapt to change and operate efficiently and effectively without you having to hold their hand.

1. Identify the ambitious people in your team. These will be the ones hungry for your attention and eager to take on more responsibility. If there are no obvious ambitious people, look for the ones with the most potential to grow.

2. Book a one-on-one short meeting with each one. Acknowledge their strengths. Tell them you are looking to coach and develop key people in the team to work with you more closely over the coming months to improve team performance. If they are keen, diarize an hour with each one.

3. When you meet, reaffirm their key strengths and what they bring to the department. Tell them your objective. Explore their ideas on how the department could run more effectively and efficiently. Listen and ask questions. Be open to their ideas. You are looking for opportunities to develop their skills at managing fast paced change and in so doing, duplicate your own expertise (instead of you having to find and create the solutions yourself all the time) .Invite them to write up one idea for improving the effectiveness of the department.

4. With their well thought out idea, question them on why they see it as a good solution. Ask questions that encourage them to see it from different perspectives e.g. what would X think of this? Or Y? What problems might be encountered? How would they overcome those? How will we know it’s successful? How can we make this measurable? What’s the next step? Share your expertise to ensure risks are addressed so they can hear how you think.

5. Give them the authority to implement it soon

6. Follow up regularly and ask for results. Ask for their concerns and their solutions. Share your expertise to ensure risks are addressed.

7. Move to the next idea.

The most successful people and companies duplicate themselves. They share their knowledge, coach their people and help them set up simple systems and processes that others can follow. It is a short term sacrifice for a long term gain but in so doing, you can create teams that are self managed, effective and efficient.

Author's Bio: 

Juliette Robertson is an Executive Coach offering webinar based Coach Training for new managers in "How to Coach Your Staff. Her 7 module coach training is globally accessible on-line and perfect for busy new managers who want the benefits of e-learning and access to qualified coaching tutors to help fast track their coaching skills.

To register for 60 minutes of free webinar based Coach Training, visit http://www.howtocoachyourstaff.com.au/register.php

Affiliate Partners are also sought to help spread these coaching skills to new managers. High commissions available for those with good business databases. See base line of web site for link.