Stop Micro Managing: Start Smart Managing

Sections of this topic

    If I was a fly on the wall what would I hear your employees say? Would it something like this? “They won’t allow me to make even the simplest decisions.” “The red tape here makes it very difficult to do my job.” “Management has to sign off on everything; they don’t trust me.”

    A big time waster for managers is micro-managing – paying extreme attention to small details and not giving people the authority to do their job.

    Why does it happen?

    If it is such a time waster, why do so many managers get hooked into micro-managing? Here are some reasons.

    • Top down mirroring. The CEO or President micro-manages his or her direct staff. The staff then unconsciously adopts the same management style with their direct reports. The practice spreads, or ‘mirrors’ itself, and becomes part of the culture.
    • Fear. In today’s difficult economy, managers live in perpetual fear that their department better produce or else. This fear drives them to micro-manage, rather than trust their employees to make the appropriate decisions.
    • A wrong belief. Many managers think success is based on amassing as much power as possible. They therefore do not allow their employees to make decisions by themselves because that would be giving up their own power. However, the more management allows employees to make decisions, the more powerful the entire organization will be.

    What Can be Done?

    Here are four strategies to influence managers to focus their time, energy and resources on the important tasks of managing – getting work down by and through others.

    1. Start at the top. Hire an executive coach to help the CEO learn to trust and delegate to subordinates. Managers will then likely follow suit with their own direct reports.
    2. Ask employees. Use focus groups and individual interviews to learn from employees what decision-making authority they feel they need to do their jobs well. Then communicate this information to their supervisors.
    3. Put yourself in their shoes. It is very easy for managers to lose perspective about what decisions their employees really need to make by themselves. Managers should ask themselves, what decisions would I need to make if I were doing that job?
    4. Train managers. Delegating and trusting employees are all skills that can be taught. During the training, those few managers that ARE doing a good job of delegating should be asked to share their best practices and successes with others.

    Supervision Success Tip:

    Many managers often know in their heart of hearts that they are micro managing. Yet they find it difficult to change old habits. Great managers are consummate learners and are willing to take risks and try new approaches.

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?