Submitted By Kurt Danskin, CEO, ORCVirtual, Inc.
Any time that I was fortunate enough to be in a position of leadership, I always made my primary objective the same: empower the team. If someone was failing on the job, I believed the first line of accountability fell to me. It was my job to train the team, support the team, and empower them to succeed. After evaluation and training, if they continued to fail, the responsibility fell on them. It comes down to my style of management – if, in the beginning, you need micro-managing to help get you over some hurdles because management failed in their training and in clearly outlining their expectations, then I was happy to do so – for a short period of time. If, after training and coaching and encouraging and supporting and you continued to fail – start polishing that resume because I’m not running a daycare.
Many of us have experienced being micro-managed and many of us are guilty of doing it. Usually it comes down to how we appear, or believe we appear, to upper management. If we are afraid that upper management does not like something from my team, then I’m likely to take it out on my team whether or not it is a real problem – I perceive it as one therefore the only way to fix it, is to put my foot down. Many times, if the department manager is hovering over everyone going through their work with a fine-toothed comb, someone above them is doing the same thing. The only way to overcome this is to have an honest, open, corporate discussion. You need to always be asking the following questions:
- Am I providing them the right tools to do the job?
- Did I teach them how to use and care for those tools?
- Do I know what it is like to sit in their chair for a day?
- Am I listening to what they have to say?
- Am I afraid that if they fail, I’m going to fail?
If dialogue is the answer – well, here’s why I do NOT like honest, open, corporate discussion…
It turns in to a whine-fest. Someone chimes in about a certain time when so-and-so did such-and-such and they go off on a tangent. They pick one or two times someone was mean to them and dwell on it and focus on that and constantly hammer it home. The current political scene is a CLASSIC example of jungle-gym bullying. You honestly don’t have that many bad things to say about others but the reality is, you don’t have anything great to say about yourself so you spend time throwing the spotlight (blame) on to others hoping beyond all hope that upper management will actually do something about it that will make you look like you are the one that is right.
I have seen it so many times in the corporate world – “Let’s have a dialogue” actually means, let’s try to listen to everyone and get them to say it like we want it said. Have you ever had to have a brutal, this-is-going-to-hurt talk with someone? It’s not a fun place to be, is it? But did it RESULT in something GOOD?
Micro-managing should not be “do-this-do-that, and then I”ll check your homework”. It should be a time to get in that trench with that team member, listen to what they have to say and get a real feel for the rhythm of their surroundings. Look closely and pick up the tools they were given and see if they actually work. A little empathy goes a long way.
Managers absolutely do not want to be surrounded by people who are better than they – it makes them look bad and they fear for their job. Leaders thrive to educate and coach people into success and thereby surround themselves with people who are much better than they are in that field.
The next time you feel the need to micro-manage someone, ask yourself, “why am I having to do this? What went wrong and where did I fail that this person needs a babysitter?” But when given the tools, and shown how to use those tools, and supported and empowered and they continue to fail? That’s when I say, “You may want to polish up your resume cause I am not running a daycare”.