Be tight on goals, loose on methods.* I share this advice frequently with clients who are learning to be good managers and leaders.
If you tell your staff exactly how do to their jobs, you stifle your company on every front. Your staff won’t have a reason to think, grow or contribute. They won’t have a reason to create or explore new ways to work better. Your organization will get smarter only as fast as you get smarter, instead of getting smarter through the growth of all your staff. You will spend much of your time teaching details and correcting “errors”, rather than using your time to think or create. And any staff with real potential will soon leave for employment that will better reward their brains and energy.
Yes, your staff need the benefit of your experience (if you’ve got it). Yes, your staff need to know their goals (whether it’s a sales guy who needs to create $1 million in net revenue in 2010, or the office administrator who needs to re-do your 80’s-era lobby). Yes, your staff need to know constraints (whether it’s “your sales territory is North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, and never lie to a prospect” or “Your decorating budget is $5,000 and let me see the furniture you choose for one final look before you buy it. Feel free to spend less.”) But after you give them what they need to know, get out of their way and let them use their smarts and inspiration to create some value on their own.
*I can’t remember where I first learned this concept, but I owe that author a debt. Please let me know if you have the original quote and source.