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Business + Management: Marty Mcghie

How to Learn to Let Go – Even When It’s Painful

Trusting your employees is one way to mitigate anxiety and recharge your batteries.

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A RATHER LONG TIME ago upon graduating from college, I moved to Seattle and went to work for Arthur Andersen, the world’s largest accounting firm. I was a very tiny spoke in a rather large wheel, but there were advantages. For example, any time I took a vacation someone else just stepped in and took over my responsibilities until I returned. At the time, I just assumed that was the way all jobs worked. It was certainly the case with all of my high school and college jobs. But that all changed rather quickly.

As I moved into management roles in my career, I soon found that no one, in fact, did my work while I was away. Furthermore, taking time off just created a lot more work and stress when I returned. Many of you undoubtedly find yourselves in this same situation. Even worse, you may feel that if and when you do take time away, you may be inviting inevitable problems and perhaps even possible disaster with your business. So, how do you end up handling the situation? You probably either suffer through the stress and anxiety during your vacation or you just decide that it’s not worth it and avoid time away from the office altogether. Neither scenario is a very good option.

So, to fix this, first let me state the obvious – it is imperative that you make the necessary changes that will allow you to take time off to recharge the proverbial batteries without the associated anxiety. These changes will need to relate to both yourself and your business, but more on that in a moment.

Let’s just agree that if your time away consists of you fielding phones calls, answering text messages, reading emails, and essentially managing the business from afar then it really isn’t a vacation anyway. If your time away resembles this then you aren’t being fair to anyone, including yourself. Even worse, you will probably return more exhausted than when you left.

So, how do you make the necessary changes to allow your time away from work to be stress free and enjoyable? It absolutely starts with your own attitude and a commitment to change your own approach. You have to decide to let go. Once you have your own mindset squared away, then you can focus on your team.

If you question the strength of your team and worry about their ability to manage things in your absence then you’re probably like the majority of managers and owners in business. But that doesn’t mean you’re right. While we could devote the next several columns to management training, let’s simplify this idea. Assuming you have done at least an adequate job of training, the most important thing you can do is to trust your people. Let them know that you trust them by avoiding the tendency to micro-manage them while you’re out of the office. This means you’ll allow them to make mistakes, learn from them, and take the responsibility of fixing them. This is a process that will happen only if you commit to making it happen.

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Look, I get it. Initially it could be painful. Prepare yourself mentally to make that change and trust your team to do their jobs. Only then will you find the comfort of spending time away free of the stress and anxiety you may have felt in the past. This will be great for your business and fantastic for you. In the words of my granddaughter’s favorite song: Let it go, let it go!

Marty Mcghie is CEO/partner of Signs.com, an online provider of custom signage based in Sale Lake City. You can email him at . marty@signs.com.

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