It’s my honor to introduce Jake LaCaze, self-described “social media introvert.”  He and I have become tweet buddies over the past several months, and he’s got a fantastic blog and insight into social media.  He took a break from his personal blog to share some thoughts on team management.  Enjoy!

Everyone has his own management style. We all have varying degrees of involvement in our employees’ projects, all the way from micromanagement to vague involvement and everything in between. On the micromanaging side, you have those who take it a step further and refer to themselves as being “hands-on” managers.”  These are managers who are not only involved in projects, they’re active participants who take on a significant portion of the workload.

Some people are proud to be hands-on managers; they wear the title like a badge. They get that little glimmer in their eyes when they say they’re a hands-on manager. (Of course, it’s been my discovery that some of these self-described hands-on managers are not truly as they perceive themselves to be). These people take pride in being the glue that holds everything together. They feel that, without them, everything would fall apart. Nothing would get done. Productivity would cease.

Is this really something to be proud of if you’re a manager?

I believe that, for the most part, a manager’s job is not to actively participate in the everyday functions of a business. Usually, a manager has bigger issues to worry about. In many cases, a manager is there to manager (obviously) and to keep the bottom from falling out.

Sure, there are times and situations that require a manager to get involved: training, filling in for a no-show employee, an unusual spike in demand, etc. But if you’re doing this every day, are you doing more harm than good?

First of all, you’re making all of your employees depend on you even more than the hierarchy of the workplace requires. What happens if you’re sick or have an emergency come up? You’ve made yourself one of the essential cogs of the machine. Without you, the show can’t possibly go on. And so it’s all chaos.

Here’s a fact of life: no one is ever paid enough. Your employees are no different. More and more research is show that people are not motivated only by money, and, in some cases, earning more money can have a negative impact on one’s work, most notably in the creative fields. There are other factors that motivate workers. Workers may not admit it, but many of them want to be relied on to do something important. Why? Because allowing them to do something important implies that they are trusted to get a task done. Of course, there are those on the other end of the spectrum would be prefer to merely do enough to earn a check and go home. But avoiding and weeding out such people would be the responsibility of a manager and the HR department.

For most of us, a job is more than a way to earn a paycheck. If we are fulfilled at work, we feel fulfilled in a portion of our lives. Give your employees the opportunity to handle small problems. Give them the freedom to make decisions. If their judgment is good, let them graduate to bigger responsibilities. It’s good to know that you have people you can depend on. Being involved in every decision will only stress you out. I’ve seen it happen firsthand, where managers think they’re doing the right thing by being involved in every step. But it proves to be too much and they can’t keep up.  They just need to take a step aside and let someone else take over for a bit.

It’s nice to feel trusted. And it’s nice to feel as if you’re developing and maturing in your position. I suppose one fear that managers may have of letting employees show their competence and letting them develop is that the employees may eventually develop the skills or confidence to leave for something better. And I suppose that’s legitimate.

But it’s also scary — when you get sick or that family emergency comes up — to be away from work and feel that you cannot trust others to carry on and execute without you.

I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum – as a manager with a crew that he could trust to do good work without having to bother them and as a manager who had no confidence in his employees and wished he could trust the employees to make the right decisions. The former situation was unbelievably pleasant while the latter situation was unbelievably frustrating and discouraging.

So, managers, is being hands-on really a good thing?

Jake LaCaze is a social media enthusiast who shares his thoughts on business-related topics on his blog. You can reach him at or connect via Twitter: @jakelacaze.

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