Fight the micro manager within you

A managerial role is as menacing as it is rewarding. At this rung of the organizational ladder, you have your own share of perks and troubles, the boundary is often porous. As you steadfastly hold on to your responsibilities, there can be a plethora of things, good to say “problems”, you are overlooking. Due to the granular size and nature of these problems, they do not meet your eyes, but keep growing. It is only when things attain a cyclonic proportion that you finally stir up and try to find the root cause, little realizing that you are the very source of all that has transpired.

Doing justice to your role, you might have undermined the roles of your employees. Don’t be surprised if your employees have already started seeing you as a “micromanager”. You have earned yourself the tag.

Globewide studies show that the managers, in many cases, are seldom aware that their management traits are morphing into “micromanagement”. The reason is simple. A micromanager rarely believes he is one.

Not sure if you are practising micromanagement? Quickly skim through the below conversation-

-“Here’s your task for the day and here’s how I want you to do it”

-“You should not be taking more than ‘n’ hours to do it and I want it to be perfect!”

-“How much is done? How much is left? How many more hours are needed?”

-“Did you copy me on that e-mail?”

-“Send me the detailed reports for each task”

Waiting for the reciprocating part of the conversation? It is unfortunately not there. Because a micromanaged employee is barely allowed a chance to speak. If something remotely close to the above mono-conversation is happening in your organization, spot the red flag! Did you notice the number of times the three-lettered menace- “how” has appeared in just five small lines? Exactly “how” management fails! Leaning more on “how” something will be done than “what” needs to be done, marks the onset of micromanagement.

It is no offence to be deeply engaged in all the project activities. Neither is it a sin to keep tabs on the regular updates. Not knowing where to draw the line is a faux pas. If your managerial activities are interfering with your employee’s liberty to work at his/her own pace, it bares your ineptitude as a manager. Delegating less work to your team members and shouldering more responsibilities does not establish you as an overachiever, contrary to the general belief. Rather, it questions your ability to trust your employees. It results in a team of self-doubting employees and impedes productivity. Depriving team members of the ownerships of their individual tasks can take a serious toll on the team’s morale.

Now here’s the flip side. The main battle! How to avoid being a micromanager, when you have deadlines to meet, deliverables to manage, and explanations to provide in case of any non-adherence to norms? Here is a whole slew of tips for you-

1. Practise minimum intervention once a task has been delegated. Have faith in your employees and allow them the space to prove themselves.

2. Avoid being a “megalomaniac” and stop exercising power and authority over your team members constantly. Your years of experience (also skills) and your employees’ flair for innovation, are the two hands that can make a clap.

3. Stop setting unrealistic goals. Your team may have members who are just a project or two old. Expecting a lot from them might compel you to micromanage.

4. Do not always be the bottleneck for approvals on project matters that can be handled by the project managers or the employees themselves.

5. Never try to cannibalize the roles of the project managers, team leads and module leads. They are there for a reason and will help streamline the workflow, if allowed enough liberty and responsibility.

Time for a quick glance at one of the most revered micromanager-turned-businessman the world has ever known. Well, none other than Steve Jobs! The resounding success of Apple over the years has completely eclipsed two of the devastating failures the mastermind had to face in the initial years. When Apple was in its infancy, Jobs left the company to start his next venture- NeXT Computer. Both the stints turned out to be back-to-back failures, the primary reason being micromanagement. It was only through his next venture, Pixar, that Jobs learnt the art of “not” micromanaging. Instead, he delegated the duties in the different levels of the hierarchy and allowed people a full tilt to their innovative selves. The invaluable takeaways as a manager helped Jobs return to Apple with a renewed fervour and take it to the altitude it has attained today.

Much like Jobs, there is an extraordinaire within every manager we see around us. It is just the “micro” prefix they need to untie themselves from!


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