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How to be an Effective “Hands-Off” Manager

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Last Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Managers who adopt the hands-off approach to management often trust their team enough to let them work by themselves.
A manager leading corporate multiracial team meeting talking to diverse businesspeople. (Image/Shutterstock)

For the most part, professionals don’t like working for bosses who constantly scrutinize their performance and pop in on them unannounced. Instead, managers often find it’s preferable to adopt a more “hands-off” approach. Still, being a hands-off manager doesn’t mean that you don’t work at all, or that you ignore problems when they arise. Just the opposite is true.

Here, we’ll explain what it really means to be a laid-back, yet effective manager, and what you can do to ensure high levels of productivity from your staff:

Form a Regimen

Hands-off managers still have to be organized. In fact, hands-off managers should arguably be more organized than “hands-on” bosses. Thankfully, by setting regular meeting times and deadlines for assignments, managers can keep tabs on all aspects of their organization.

What’s more, it’s a good idea to use a smart goals worksheet to create objectives the entire team can pursue together. The more entrenched a group becomes in a routine, the easier it will be to predict and manage issues as they happen.

Become a Problem Solver

Capable professionals don’t need their managers hovering over them to see if they’re busy at work 24/7. Rather, they need their managers to assist them with complex problems that involve other departments, customers, or new technology or systems.

Given that fact, managers should see themselves as problem solvers first and foremost. By making it easier for your best pros to accomplish their goals, managers can virtually guarantee success.

Keep an Open Door

There’s a big difference between being “laid back” and seeming “aloof.” Employees should always feel comfortable addressing their boss –– even regarding sensitive subjects or complex situations. That’s why it’s key to implement an open-door policy and to follow up on that implicit promise.

If your team doesn’t feel comfortable voicing concerns or raising questions, you could easily overlook some major challenges that your employees are facing. Listen just as much as you speak!

Reward Quality Performance

Even though professionals don’t enjoy being micromanaged, they still have a need for recognition and praise. So hands-off managers should make it a point to celebrate employee accomplishments –– both big and small.

Remember, you don’t have to throw a massive party or give out huge bonuses to properly reward your staff’s efforts. Often, a simple word of congratulations or a quick email of appreciation will do the trick just fine.

Consider using your professional social media account to laud your team’s performance and highlight positive aspects of your business at the same time.


Some great bosses are very energetic while others are much more mild-mannered. Ultimately, all managers should simply strive to be honest and fair when dealing with their team.

Do that, and you’ll have no trouble motivating your team.

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