Micromanage = Macro-Damage!
“Stop,” “Keep your hands off,” “Leave me alone.” No, we are not in a sexual harassment seminar. These are phrases employees are internally screaming, but never say out loud. They would like to say these phrases to their boss when he or she is telling them how “they think the work should be done.” Typically the employee muffles the urge to blurt them out; which just makes everything worse. And I mean, everything. Morale, learning, teamwork, production, efficiency, and leadership all suffer when employees are thinking these thoughts.
The definition of Micromanage, according to Dictionary.com is: “To manage or control with excessive attention to minor details.” Control freak, crushing, overwhelming control, and smothering are some other words employees typically use.
With all the great literature, blogs, and training out there, Micromanagers should be a vanishing breed, but unfortunately, they are not. I have a question for these micromanagers: “While you are busy telling people how to do their jobs, who is doing yours?” Because you are not doing it, and quite frankly, you don’t have time to waste on telling intelligent people how to do their job. Didn’t you give that job to them for a reason? When you are telling them HOW to do their job, fundamentally you are telling them that: you don’t trust them to do it themselves, that your way is the only way, and you don’t want them to learn how to be independent. Nice.
How would you like to improve your life, the life of your employees, get more work done, improve morale, build self-esteem, and exemplify good leadership? Of course you would. Okay then, stop micromanaging. And if you would like to do that, here are four things you could do when you give someone a task to complete:
- Give them clear expectations. Meet with the person you are going to delegate the task to and discuss with them all of your expectations. That is it. Don’t tell them how to do it, just tell them what the end result should be. Tell them everything they need to know in order to complete the job and make sure they have the tools to complete it (money, people, paperwork, time etc.).
- Set up a routine scheduled meeting. This is the big one. This solves almost all your problems. If they have six months to complete something you might want to meet with them twice a month, maybe the second and fourth Monday of every month at 10am in your office. Depending on the complexity it may be once a week. In that meeting you want three things from them, 1. The project name, 2. The progress, 3. Problems and proposed solutions. (The 3 P’s) This meeting should take about 15 minutes and you will have the pulse of what is going on. If they seem to be a little off course, you can help them at this meeting, but under no circumstances will you ever relieve them of their responsibility for the tasking. They are still in charge of it. And here is the great thing about this meeting: you are not chasing them around watching their every move, you are not on their back telling them every step to take, and you are being fed all the information you need. You also have time to do your job!
- Hold them accountable. This is a serious aspect of this formula if you want it to work. First, they need to be at this meeting you agreed on, on time and ready to go. If they are not in your office at 10am, you can give them 5 minutes, but on minute 6, I would be on the phone looking for them. And when they do come in late, you need to let them know that this is a critical meeting and it’s important to be on time. We all have a lot to do, so let’s not disrespect a person’s time or the person themself.
If they are not completing portions of the tasking given, we need to find out why and let them know you expect them to do what they said they were going to do. They need to know that you are there to support them (not do their work) when they need it, but they have to pull their own weight. When you do this, you are teaching them discipline, accountability, persistence, building trust, building their own self-worth, and confidence. By letting them “slide” they will learn none of these important character traits or work ethics.
- Answer their questions and support them. You will need to guide them in certain areas, but they need to understand this is their project and they need to do as much of this on their own as possible. They shouldn’t be in your office every 20 minutes asking you questions. No, they make the decisions and you can discuss the results in your scheduled meetings. Now, if you know there is a particular portion of the tasking that is tricky, or definitely difficult, tell them to come to you ON THAT PORTION, otherwise – this is their job.
There is a lot going on here. Getting out of the “micromanaging business” is critical for you and your employees. You only have so much time in the day and you need to be supervising because that is what you get paid to do, not do the tasks of those below you. Our employees get paid for that. You should be looking and planning ahead, taking care of your people and setting a good example.
We should be in the business of growing leaders whenever possible and they need to be self-sufficient problem solvers. For those of us who have experience, we know it came from fixing many of our own mistakes and not by being micromanaged into blind obedience. Give your employees the chance to learn their own lessons.
Be known as a good leader … not as a micromanager!