Micro-Management – Some Great Ways to Eliminate This From Your Workday

July 4, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

If you are being micro-managed by your boss, you may need to re-evaluate whether you are in the right job and with the right employer. There really is nothing as disempowering as having your boss stand over you and check every element of your work, often making minor alterations to your output that don’t make a great deal of sense. This of course presumes that you are not untrained, naturally inclined to be lazy, incompetent or you simply want to be led by the nose the whole time.

Most people are naturally focused on doing a good job. There is joy in being allowed to achieve the aims of your job without being told every step you must take along the way. There is tremendous satisfaction in being able to do things your own way and coming out with extraordinary results. Only a minority of people are lazy and will not do their job unless the boss is sitting at their shoulder, intimidating them into completing their work.

There is also the Pygmalion effect to contend with. This essentially says that if you are treated with respect and there is an expectation that you will perform your duties well, then you will naturally perform at the expected level or better. On the other hand, if you are treated with suspicion and that there is an expectation that you will mess up, then it is likely that you will in fact mess up.

I worked for a guy in the early stages of my career, who would comment on my sentence structure when speaking to clients on the telephone. He would tell me what I should have said, using his language and sentence structure rather than my own. This type of nit-picking is so disempowering. Eventually, I started making stupid mistakes because I was overly conscious of the fact that my boss was listening to every conversation I had on the phone.

The other side of this coin is where you are in fact the micro-manager. If you are micro-managing your colleagues and subordinates it’s time to get a life. I am being serious here. If you are over-zealous in your supervision, you are taking away from your colleagues’ natural problem solving capabilities and trying to force them to do things your way. Your way may not in fact be the right way.

So how do you change the dynamic in your relationships so that micro-managing can be eliminated?

If you are the subordinate, you need to have open dialogue with your superior and get a clear understanding of his/her expectations of high performance and how you will meet or surpass agreed objectives. You then need to tell your boss that you are well motivated and that you can meet the agreed objectives but that you need to have the flexibility to take control of your job and execute your responsibilities to the best of your ability.

You need to state that you understand that supervision may be part of the deal initially but that you also need the flexibility to approach the job in your own way if performance objectives are to be met. After all, if you succeed, it will make your boss look good as well.

If you micro-manage your staff, you need to take a long hard look at your own performance. If you are busy watching and listening to subordinates all day long how are you managing to get your own work done? Managing people is all about setting the direction that you wish them to follow and then standing back so that they can succeed.

Periodic performance reviews and recommended course corrections are fine once they take place within the confines of a formal performance management system. Daily or hourly feedback on performance is both a hindrance to high performance and harmful to inter-personal dynamics within your team. As a manager, try to have open dialogue with your people and above all, learn to trust.

If you want to succeed as a manager, all you need to do is focus upon delivering upon your own objectives and be a cheer leader for your subordinates. Lead from the front rather than push from the rear.

Niall Strickland is an MBA with more than 20 years of business and management consulting experience working with entrepreneurs in small and medium companies. He delivers lots of business tips and tools in his many free videos and articles at http://www.niallstrickland.com

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