Sometimes, bottlenecks come in the form of clunky processes or procedures. Other times, they involve people who hold up projects and prevent work from moving forward. What if that person is you? Ben Brearley, a leadership coach and consultant, sees it happen often — professionals end up bottlenecking their team because they fear making a mistake or looking bad. When people feel like they must maintain tight control over everything, they end up being a bottleneck.

Want to break out of your bottlenecking tendencies? We share a few tips from Brearley in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Name your fears. Think about what worries you. What do you think will happen if you let go of something? What about the situation makes you feel uncomfortable? Brearley says these answers can motivate you to make a change and help you pinpoint the areas you’ll need to fix to stop being a bottleneck.

Communicate to your team. Let your colleagues know what you want to achieve. Maybe that means contributing more personally or stepping back to let others develop their skills further. This will help get your team on board with your approach, rather than trying to figure out what’s going on with your change in behavior, Brearley says.

Help others grow. Many professionals end up becoming bottlenecks because they don’t think others are up to a particular task. If this sounds like you, work on building more trust with your team. Brearley recommends helping them develop new skills and setting expectations on what you need from them.

Lower your standards. Perfectionism is one of the biggest drivers of bottleneck behavior, Brearley says. Remember that things do not need to be perfect. Think about where you can compromise or lower the bar a bit.

Accept that failure is an option. Following the point above, remember that something could go wrong. If this happens, use the experience as a learning opportunity. Consider what might go wrong and develop some measures to reduce the risks, Brearley says.

Learn to delegate more often. Professionals who tend to create bottlenecks in their team often have a hard time delegating. This means delegating tasks and accountability, Brearley says. Create some procedures that allow you to know what’s going on without needing to be involved the whole time.

Focus on the big picture. Bottleneckers are often laser-focused on the details. To break out of bottlenecking tendencies, it’s important to focus on more strategic activities. Brearley says these may include planning, improvement opportunities, networking or development and growth.

While some things are out of your control at work, you can take steps to ensure you don’t bog down your team. When others are depending on you for answers or deliverables, you can be sure you show up for them in a timely and responsible way by following the guidance above.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Ben Brearley is an experienced leadership coach, consultant and manager. He is also the founder of Thoughtful Leader.