Action plans, sweating the details – ensuring work gets done – are important and help keep us on course. Without them, it’s easy for top performers to lapse into average ones. But too often, managers fail in trusting the team to do what they need to while staying in the loop. Instead we’ve seen Managerzillas – obsessing over every task assigned to the team, constant over-the-shoulder peeking, and demanding work is completed “their way”.
There is no denying the damage micromanagement can cause. Research conducted by Trinity Solutions, also featured in Harry Chambers My Way or the Highway, showed:
- 79% of respondents experienced it
- 85% claimed it negatively impacted their morale
- 71% said it interfered with their performance
- 69% considered changing jobs because of it
I’m sure you know a colleague or two who have suffered the shackles of micromanagement. You may have been a victim yourself. You may also have seen the suffering of a manager who got burned out by micromanaging their team.
“Micro” = Reduced
What most micromanagers fail to see is that they are actually restricting the ability of their team to get things done, and therefore reducing the effectiveness of their own management skills.
Some leader-managers may feel the need to micromanage others out of fear that they won’t accomplish tasks effectively or on time. Others do so because it’s a job or task they’ve done before they were a manager, and they just don’t know any other way to ensure everyone is getting things done except on their own terms.
Whatever the reason, the result is the same. The leader-manager ends up doing or re-doing most of the work themselves, taking their valuable time away from their strategic responsibilities, and leaving their staff feeling demoralized and not fully responsible for owning to the expected outcomes.
Technology doesn’t micromanage people. People micromanage people.
The digital age has brought us ways to stay in touch all the time – smartphones, email, text, mobile apps. But technology has also made the bad habit of micromanagement even easier. From bosses that require to be cc’ed on every email that goes out, to those that use “got-you” tools to snoop around every task employees are involved in.
But technology itself isn’t the culprit.
When technology is used the wrong way, leader-managers are basically throwing roadblocks to team and individual success. They stifle initiative and suppress innovation of individuals. They end up damaging their own reputation, and can often have a revolving door of staff.
Managing with style
It’s important for the leader-manager to understand what their management style is and avoid the trap of using one style in all types of situations.
Learning to expand your management style can mean the difference between an ineffective manager that micromanages their team with too much involvement; or one that takes a laisser-faire approach by trying hard to maintain the status quo to avoid rocking even a sinking ship.
Using the right leadership behaviors, at the right time, in the right context, with the right individuals will earn you respect from your team and allow you to see things get done faster and achieve the desired outcome every time. And the team will feel empowered and committed to the task at hand, and to the organization.
Start with trust
Effective managers allow their teams access to all the tools they need to use their time wisely in ways that lead to improved productivity, faster decisions and better outcome. They trust in their own hiring decisions, and that the team possesses the right skills and abilities to achieve what’s required of them. And if they don’t have them? Then they call on some courage to make the hard decision to find people who do – rather than try to do the job themselves.
When I meet with my individual team members on a weekly basis, I ask 3 questions:
- What are your priorities for this week?
- Do you have everything you need to accomplish them?
- How can I support you?
If everything’s going well and is on track, then I know I can leave the answers to these 3 questions in my team members’ hands. If it’s not, then I know I need to problem-solve with them – it all depends on the situation and the task at hand (hint – the right management style).
Set clear direction
Good leader-managers set clear goals, identify priorities and develop a focus for the team to do what’s right at work every day.
Just one hour of priority setting at the onset of the week – ensuring every team member is aligned around getting the right things done – frees up everyone’s time for the other 39+ hours of the work week – increasing both productivity and morale, without anyone feeling micromanaged or undermined.
It helps you remain confident that your team is focused on getting the right things done, leaving you free to spend your time leading the company to greater heights.
The sweet spot
The best way to manage is when people don’t even feel they are being managed. For that you need systems, structures and established processes that people see the value of using and taking ownership of them at work every day. This is management working at its best.
As Theodore Roosevelt once observed, “the best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good (people) to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”