Manage Less to Manage Better

Sections of this topic

    If I was a fly on the wall what would I hear your employees say? Would it something like this? “He won’t allow me to make even the simplest decisions. She has to sign off on everything. It’s hard to do my job because there’s too much red tape.”

    Is it possible your staff is talking about you?
    A very common problem with many managers is micro-managing – thinking that you have to be in control of everything. For example: You check everyone’s work, even when you don’t need to. You need to know where everyone is at any given moment. You watch people closely and tell them how they could improve or what they should change. You pay attention to all the details wanting to make sure everything is done just right.

    Why do so many managers get hooked?

    • The way we manage around here. Senior leaders micro-manages their direct staff. The staff adopts the same management style with their direct reports. The practice spreads and becomes part of the culture.
    • Get results or else. In today’s difficult economy, managers live in perpetual fear that their department better produce or be out of a job. This fear drives them to constantly check on their staff and their work.
    • A wrong belief. Many managers think success is based on authority. So they don’t allow their employees to make decisions because they believe that would be giving up their own power. The irony is when your people shine and do well, it enhances your reputation as a good manager.

    Of course, there are situations where it’s important for you to be in control – a crisis situation you must take charge of immediately or a confidential project given to you by your boss. But, there are also situations, when you could relax a little, loosen the hand cuffs and let your people find and implement the best solutions.

    So how do you manage less which is really managing better?

    • Start at the top. Hire an executive coach to help senior leaders learn to trust and delegate to subordinates. Managers will then likely follow suit with their own direct reports.
    • Put yourself in their shoes. It is very easy for managers to lose perspective about what decisions their staff can make on their own. Managers should ask themselves, what decisions would I need to make if I were doing that job?
    • Minimize the risk of things going wrong. Have them talk through their plans and get them to think of the possible consequences before they move forward. Also, schedule regular updates so you can see the progress and catch possible problems before they become full blown crises.

    Management Success Tip:

    Control and micro-managing kills the spirit of of competent and committed people. Morale goes down, people get disengaged and mediocrity sets in. Instead, allow others to find their own way while you’re there to offer support when asked or needed. A great manager helps their people grow and develop their own strengths and talents. They are pride-builders. Are you?

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?