Managers too often think they need to show that they are in charge by making all of the decisions without first gathering all relevant information. Often this means asking subordinates for additional information or even for their assistance.
Utilize your team as a resource from which to make decisions. Don’t talk over them or assume they don’t know what they are talking about. Unless you hear what they have to say, you can’t truthfully know whether they are knowledgeable or not.
Your team – whether that is a department, a division, or an entire company – will often know the nitty-gritty of the project better than you. While you may have a higher up, broad view of your area, the people in the trenches know the day-to-day problems and shortcuts to get things done. Utilize that!
Realize What You Don’t Know
There is no weakness in accepting that you don’t know everything. Acknowledge that maybe your team can teach you a few things and compliment them on it. Listen to them. Ask their opinion. They may have ideas that are better than yours. You can’t think of everything, nor should you have to. That’s what teams are for – they help their leader!
Asking for their opinions and assistance is also one of the best ways to get your team to “buy in”. Buy in is discussed in detail elsewhere on this site, but for now just understand that getting your team to “own” a process or procedure is critical to its success. Being told to do job X because you said so will get some results. Getting their opinion and creating a plan together will get far better results.
Your Boss Is Also A Resource
The other side of the coin is that sometimes admitting you don’t know the answer requires you to contact your boss to help. Don’t think that admitting ignorance on an issue means that your boss will think less of you.
If your boss is experienced, he or she will appreciate your honesty in asking a question rather than pretending to understand – all the while continuing down the wrong path towards makes an even bigger mess.
Managing people is not easy. Take help when you can get it.