Most managers who micromanage their employees suppress their spirit and performance.
Employee’s performance is directly tied to their sense of ownership, commitment, and accountability for the success of their organization. Their passion, ownership, commitment and accountability are reduced when they feel distrusted, disrespected and under-valued from a leadership and/or professional standpoint by their manager.
By micromanaging their people, managers generate an environment of compliance and fear. And that typically cause people to play it safe and “cover their behinds” instead of stepping up and going beyond the call of duty to take ownership, risk and initiative.
Managers who are consumed with micromanaging their employees are focused on the wrong things. Instead, they should be providing leadership and confidence to their team by identifying their next strategic objectives, inspiring their employees to take them on, and ensuring that the organization has the wherewithal to execute them.
In fact, micromanagement puts in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy: The manager relates to his people as uncommitted, incompetent and/or unreliable. The people in turn play it safe and don’t take ownership, risk and accountability. This confirms the manager’s view and he continues to micromanage.
The issue lies with the manager. Most managers who micromanage and control their people do it beause of their own insecurity and fear of failure, and not because their employees are ,in fact, incompetent or uncommitted.
In order to strike the appropriate balance between being on top of things and not hovering over their people, managers must put the following building blocks in place and manage them effectively:
- They must build a team that they trust in terms of commitment and competency. And they must establish a dynamic of authentic, honest and courageous communication within their team.
- They must align their team members around their vision of the future – a clear vision and/or set of objectives that all team members clearly understand and are on the same page about; a future that everyone feels genuinely passionate about, committed to and accountable for, as their own.
- They must orient their team members around results and deliverables rather than tasks and activities in order to build an environment of real accountability (accountability can only exist when there are clear measurable results to manage).
- They must ensure that roles, accountabilities, expectations and processes are completely clear to all team members, in order to eliminate the chance of ambiguity, excuses or mischief in this regard.
- Lastly, they must put in place a simple and effective mechanism and process for tracking all key commitments, deliverables and promised results on a monthly and quarterly basis in order to eliminate confusion or lack of accountability. They should structure their executive team as the cabinet accountable for the achievement of the collective future (not just ‘each to their own’), hence dedicate monthly or quarterly team meetings to track and review progress.
If someone is not performing up to an agreed-upon standard or expectation, managers must be willing to have a straight and honest conversation that either elevates the individual to a higher level of performance, or makes it clear that someone else needs to be brought in to do the job.
If the manager has built a strong team dynamic of honest communication and authentic ownership toward his future there will be no need for micromanagement because his team members will be operating in a very powerful and responsible way toward making results happen.
In the absence of real ownership and honesty no amount of micromanagement will be effective anyway.