Work environments would be so much better if every manager followed the advice Barbara Moses gives – “If you allow staff to own a project, you must trust in their capacity and avoid micromanagement, … Be there to provide support when needed, but don’t force yourself into the picture.”
This week, I received a call from a friend asking for help. “Please help me find a job”, he said. “My boss is driving me insane; she micromanages everything and I’m so fed up with it. I just need to get out of here!” I heard the frustration and sadness in his voice. You see, my friend is very talented and creative. He is a go getter, a high achiever and has never had to deal with the current level of micromanagement he is experiencing. He has always worked with leaders/managers who recognized his skills and talents and who empowered him to complete assigned tasks in an exemplary fashion because they trusted his ability to get the job done. Recently, the company hired a new Vice President whose leadership style clashes with the previous leaders and also clashes with the expectations of the existing employees.
Leaders/Managers micromanage for various reasons which include a need to maintain control, fear of failing and sometimes they think they are helping. What every leader/manager should know is that micromanagement suppresses creativity, breeds resentment, creates a sense that employees can’t be trusted and causes employees to pull back. It hurts more than it helps.
Here’s the advice I gave my friend:
- Discuss it with his new boss. Give his boss a clear history of his past achievements with the organization, share the projects he led previously and discuss the best method his boss could use to manage him.
- Recognize that his boss may have some fears. Being new to the environment, she may be trying to make sure nothing falls through the crack. Cut her some slack and work with her. Allow her some time to adjust/settle into the new role .
- Own the situation. When given a project or assignment, discuss it with his boss; what are her expectations, does she have any advice or suggestions, share his thoughts about the way he sees the project being completed and reconfirm the deadline for completion.
- Provide updates on a regular basis. If his boss is asking for updates every 2 days, instead of waiting for her to come, email her or speak with her daily updating her on his progress. This will prevent her from having to come to him and ask for updates/information.
- Allow the new VP to recognize that he is a talented individual, who completes his assignments and doesn’t need to be closely managed. Only time and relationship building will build her confidence in both her new role and in his abilities.
Micromanagement is never effective however it could be the end result of some underlying issues a leader or manager is facing particularly a newly appointed one. Employees must also take responsibility for building relationships with their leaders and demonstrate their competence and capabilities.
Tip of the week: Leaders should be aware that micromanaging employees will subtract value from their organization. Demonstrate confidence in your employee’s proven ability to get the job done. When employees are empowered to use their creativity and skills to complete tasks, they feel better about contributing and adding value to the organization. Employees should ask for clear project/assignment expectations from their leader, communicate often and meet commitments.