Micromanagement – Don’t be a jack-in-the-box

Steve was like a jack-in-the-box.  He would sit at his desk chomping noisily on his favourite bourbon biscuits and then bang, he would bounce up out of his chair to check on how the team were doing. He would swirl across the office floor speaking with his team members, checking on project updates and of course double checking whether they had done the tasks he had given them that morning. After he was satisfied, Steve would scoot back to his desk and jump back into his box for another 30 or so minutes, before springing back out and starting all over again.  What Steve didn’t know was that he was also on course for a full-on hernia if he carried on like this!

In Steve’s head, he was managing his team effectively.  He knew what everyone was up to and felt he had his finger firmly on the pulse. He was circulating, doing the rounds like every visible manager should and would spend time talking to his staff (which would surely get him extra brownie points as a ‘people person’ wouldn’t it?).

In reality, Steve’s team thought he was a real pain in the backside. ‘Stalker Steve’ was what they called him and they labelled him a complete control freak.  I’ve no doubt that Steve’s heart was in the right place, after all, he wasn’t a dictator as such. In his head, he was trying to support and help his team but in doing so, Stalker Steve was unwittingly creating a culture of complete distrust and disharmony.

The PU View

Steve needed to put the brakes on.  He needed to take a step back and implement some of these tips:

  • Updates – Instead of hovering over people, agree update meetings/emails/reports with individuals in the team. The amount will differ from person to person. Stick to the times agreed. Don’t be tempted to dip in and out when you feel like it.
  • Empower the team – Hand over accountability and responsibility for certain tasks and projects to individuals. This will help to breed trust, self-confidence and will even boost motivation. Be there to support them if they need you, but definitely don’t hinder them.
  • Delegate effectively – Don’t just delegate to your ‘stars’, put faith in all of your team members, you may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
  • Provide regular, constructive feedback – Meet with individuals to provide feedback on their performance and workplace behaviours. Don’t just ‘drop on them’, agree a mutual time that fits in with workload and is a good time of day for the chat (-again this will differ depending on each individual, their workload and other factors).

If Steve had implemented these steps he would very quickly have started to nurture a culture of mutual trust and respect within the team (- and of course prevent a hernia).   Undoubtedly, over time, the atmosphere would change for the better and as a result, individual and team performance would see improvements too.

Book Recommendation 

If you are looking develop your micromanagement skills you’ll love; Moving From Micromanagement to Masterful Leadership by Rhonda Geddis. 



Pic by Charles Barsotti


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