How Protecting Your Team Can Backfire
One of the most primal goals of a leader is to keep their people safe and secure. In the business world, safe and secure is subjective. In today’s office environment employees are safe from physical harm when they go to work. This leads to leaders adopting new definitions of safety, whether realizing it or not. For example, leaders often consider team happiness as the primary measurement of safety and security in an office environment.
A leader’s good intentions can protect team members from the wrong threats.
Some of the best advice I receive when protecting my team was a simple question, “have you asked your team?”. I had been hoarding work because I didn’t want to overwork my team, I didn’t want to stress them out by overloading their workload. What I was doing in my mind was protecting them. In their eyes, once I asked them was that I didn’t trust or believe in them to take on some of the more challenging tasks.
Don’t protect your team from improving their skills.
If you want to prevent a team member from developing their skills, then please keep protecting them. Keep the hard projects, the messy ones and the long-term ones. Don’t delegate. I’ve personally even kept the administrative tasks because, “who else would want to do this”. I looked at employee happiness as the factor I was protecting. By delegating the ugly administrative task, the tedious one I was keeping my team happy. What I was really teaching them was that these types of tasks don’t exist. That their job is only filled with the fun and interesting assignments.
Your team needs these ugly, difficult and long-term projects.
In her book, Grit, Angela Duckworth states that talent “is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them”. By protecting your team, you’re doing the opposite of any great manager you’re preventing your team from using their skills.
The next time you have an ugly, messy or tedious project ask yourself if you’re really protecting your team.