Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for July, 2010

More on micromanaging—What can you do about it?

Whether you’re a micromanager, or you’re being micromanaged, I promised (in my last post) to offer a few tools or approaches that may help those of you who may be interested in shifting behaviors.

Keep in mind that sustaining significant changes in management or work behaviors takes ongoing attention, focus, and hard work. The steps I offer here are just a start—that may generate first conversations towards more productive, and motivating work relationships.

If you’re being micromanaged, and you’re challenged by it . . .
– have a heart-to-heart with your manager. Request a meeting and offer specific examples of times when his or her style may have hindered your ability to do your best (highlight the business case) and offer to collaborate to find a better way for both of you. Do your best to enter the discussion with compassion and a willingness to listen. When a manager struggles with being over-controlling, they’re often oblivious to it. And even if they are aware of it, it’s often such an innate personality trait that it’s a difficult one to overcome.

If you’re a micromanager who wants to change . . .
– acknowledge your tendency to micromanage and let employees know that you’d like to work with them, one-on-one, to achieve more effective partnerships, while being sensitive to their, and your, varied work styles. Let them know that you’re open to feedback, and trying new ways to help you provide the space and support they need to be most efficient and creative.
– ask the employee for specific examples of when your micromanaging may have caused inefficiencies or affected their motivation. Then listen intently. And although you may choose to respond, do your best not to react emotionally.
– ask for the employee’s specific recommendations for how you both might have done it differently—so that you might apply these behaviors to your next delegation opportunity.
– when delegating, set up a specific time to review progress with the individual you’re delegating to, and then make a commitment to let go of it (i.e., don’t act on your tendencies to check up on progress) until your scheduled status update/discussion. If you feel that it may be too difficult for you to delegate an entire project or task without more frequent oversight, choose a smaller component of the project or task that you feel you can manage to let go of until your scheduled conversation. Use it as a practice run.

The manager’s and the employee’s ability to participate in scheduled, solution-oriented discussions with one another, will help build trust and create more possibilities for a positive shift in their working relationship.

Does this post hit home for you? Can you share any of your experiences that may be helpful to other readers?

Paying attention or micromanaging?

I have, many times, heard managers state that they don’t want to micromanage or be seen as a micromanager. This, I understand. However, there have been times when I’ve heard this as a response to my recommendation that a manager consider holding people more accountable.

Paying attention to the performance levels of your direct reports and their respective departments, setting and modeling high standards as they relate to quality and meeting agreed upon deadlines, and following up when you don’t receive a promised deliverable is not micromanaging. It’s effective managing.

Micromanaging is when you have difficulty letting go of a project or task once you delegate it. It’s seeing your own approach—even down to how you would manage the details—as the superior approach. It’s often referred to as “breathing down someone’s neck” as the micromanager hovers to control how details are managed. It’s not unusual for this behavior to squelch independent thinking and creativity. Employees may be thinking there’s no use, as you’re probably going to get involved and change it anyway.

There is a fine line between paying attention and micro-managing. However, the difference is clear. Paying attention and generating accountability—good. Micromanaging—not so much.

Struggling with micromanaging? Stay tuned, and next post, I’ll offer some doable strategies that may help.