You hire someone because of their ability, their creativity, their skills and their knowledge. You don’t hire someone to simply be a conduit of your thoughts - unless you are a micromanager. And, no one wants to work for one of those. It stifles creativity and leads to dead-eyed employees who can’t wait to get home at the end of the day.
What is a micromanager?
A micromanager is that boss who gives out a list of tasks at the beginning of each day, who has frequent meetings to discuss “progress”, who arranges client meetings on behalf of their employees, who insists on checking every piece of work before it is sent out and who hovers over the shoulders of their employees - all day, every day. Mostly, a micromanager is that boss who has forgotten why they hired someone in the first place.
"Invariably, micromanaging results in four problems: deceit, disloyalty, conflict, and communication problems."John Rosemond
You don’t choose an employee based on their ability to follow a set of detailed instructions. They will cost you both time and money. You want an employee who will take a task and run with it, using their creativity to approach it in an innovative way that is particular to them. They are the person who has a set of skills that inspire your other staff and allow you to get on with the work you should be doing. The role of any manager or business owner is overseeing - not overbearing.
But why is micromanaging so bad for your workplace and why should you be aiming for a “macro” approach to your management?
“Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people.” Steve Jobs
Your staff need to feel like they are trusted within the working environment. If you are checking everything they do, they will assume you don’t trust them or their capabilities. The first thing they will start to do is to question their own mind and to check and double check their work. While this might be a good skill, doing it unnecessarily can lead to productivity issues - not to mention the loss of self-esteem.
Your staff will soon feel like they need to check every little thing with you before they do it. This dependency will soon start to grate on you, as you wonder why they can’t just use a little initiative. What you may not realise is that your own micromanagement style has led to this loss of confidence. What if you need to go on holiday or you are sick? Will your employees be able to cope with doing things their own way?
You are it. You are the bottleneck within your company and the reason why projects run over time or deadlines are not reached. If you need to micromanage, you will want to see every piece of work before the client does. Do you really have time to do this? It seems like a very inefficient way to run a business. If you have chosen people who know how to do their job, why must you check it?
"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." Peter Drucker
Macromanagement - the way forward
Getting out of the micromanagement habit can be tricky, but with practise you will start to create an environment that truly engenders trust and initiative amongst your staff. The following few pointers should help you make the most of this important relationship.
● Reduce the number of meetings to one per week and keep them focused on what has already been achieved and not what needs to be achieved.
● Make staff aware of the deadlines and the consequences of not reaching them - then leave them to get there on their own.
● Make sure your staff feel comfortable coming to you with any issues that might affect their performance. Be helpful when they need it and distant when they don’t.
● Give good feedback and suggestions for doing things differently - but only when results didn’t meet expectations. Praise good work and don’t try to change it.
● Empower your staff to reach their personal potential. Remember why you hired them and let them work independently with as much backup and assistance as they request.
● Get some help – seriously. There is a reason you are micro managing that may be down to your perfectionist nature, insecurity or simply a lack of knowledge. Look at your processes, bring in an outside consultant to look at your working processes, read books and go on courses. Anything that makes you a better manager will guarantee an improvement to your bottom line.
Will there be times when you will need to micro manage your people? Yes, of course. When you hire them and just before you fire them!
Focus on empowering your people. Focus on building your macro-management style and see how your staff react. Chances are you will see flashes of brilliance that can only push your business forward.