Sweating the details can help keep us on course and get things done properly. Too often, however, managers fail to trust their team to do what they need to. In the name of staying in the loop, Managerzillas emerge – obsessing over every task assigned to the team, constantly looking over shoulders, 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:
“Micro” = Reduced
What most micromanagers fail to see is that they are actually restricting the ability of their team to get things done, thereby reducing the effectiveness of their own management skills.
Some leader-managers may feel the need to micromanage others out of fear that their team 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, which takes their valuable time away from their strategic responsibilities and leaves their staff feeling demoralized and not fully responsible for owning to the expected outcomes.
Technology doesn’t micromanage people. People micromanage people.
Technology has not only made it easy to stay in touch all the time, it has also enabled greater levels of micromanagement. We’ve all heard of bosses who need to be cc’ed on every email or who use “gotcha” tools to snoop into their employees’ every task.
But technology itself isn’t the culprit.
When technology is used the wrong way, leader-managers are basically throwing up 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 help you avoid becoming an ineffective micro-manager or a laissez-faire manager who struggles to maintain the status quo and avoid rocking even a sinking ship.
Using the right leadership behaviour, 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. Your 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 outcomes. They trust in their hiring decisions; they trust that the team has the right skills and abilities to achieve what’s required. And if the team doesn’t have the skills? Then the manager calls 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:
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.
Clear goals help 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. When you’ve got systems, structures, and processes that work and are clearly valuable, your people will use them and take ownership of the work they do every day. This is management working at its best.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “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."