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Micromanagement: Know When to Hold Em’ and When to Fold Em’

There are some aspects to an organisation that shouldn’t be managed too closely. To do so, undermines the intelligence and capabilities of your staff. An important part of executive development and management development, is knowing when to step in, and when to mind your p’s and q’s.  For the certified control freaks among us, it’s a lesson in letting go, trusting and empowering people to do their jobs.

Social Media

It’s very time consuming and silly to micro-manage and vet every single tweet, post and rumination that happens on social media. Executive level managers should leave social media to the younger and more engaged employees, who really understand the nature of the beast. Social media communication is by nature informal, friendly and high volume. This is in complete opposition sometimes, to the more staid, traditional communications that are released to stakeholders via other channels. Have some social media best practice guidelines in place, but this one doesn’t require an intensive overview.

Customer Complaints and Feedback

Executive level management should be involved in high level disputes and escalated issues that come to their attention, after other processes have been exhausted. However, to jump the gun and handle complaints and be the first point of contact, is dispiriting to key account managers, customer service managers and people in charge of managing the relationship in the first instance. Leaders can’t be looking over the shoulders of client relationship managers. After all, they were hired on the basis, that they understand the nuances and intricacies involved with complaints handling.

IT Problems

This is a specialist area that’s best to entrust in someone who understands the jargon, processes and time frames involved in resolving technical issues. Creating additional pressure by placing unrealistic expectations on your IT team, in terms of deliverables, is only going to make them feel like they aren’t being listened to, or understood. Antagonising the team who manages all of the data in the organisation, isn’t the wisest idea. Best to let them get on with things without interfering.

Grammar, Punctuation and Editing

Getting back communications and finding them marked with red pen, with vehemently struck off pieces of text – is the anathema of any person. Grammar, punctuation, tone of voice, style and word choice are all the domain of your marketing team, and this isn’t something that requires a high level overview. The extent of board or management level input, should be the objective of the communications, overall strategic purpose and the question of ‘why’ the communications are needed.

Any glaringly obvious mistakes in the grammar, structure or punctuation should be treated as a training issue and raised with the relevant person in charge of this.

The Dark Side

Persisting with micromanaging certain aspects of the business, will inevitably result in a loss of time and possibly health. A manager with such a broad scope for overseeing the business will be prone to the 60 hour work week and stress-related health issues. It can be ruinous to a team’s productivity and become a self-fulfilling prophesy. People will be unwilling to give their best for a boss who doesn’t believe in them. And this will in turn prove the manager’s theory, that he or she is indeed surrounded by a bunch of twits. Also, it’s simply not nice for anyone involved.

A Check List

Here’s a check list of micromanagement qualities. You can assess your tendencies towards joining the dark side. If you answer yes to three or more questions, then perhaps you need: a holiday, a chill pill and new insights into how you manage your business.

  • Do you discourage individual initiative, creative ideas and new ways of doing things?
  • Do you often find yourself doing subordinate tasks?
  • Do you feel the need to double check or triple check other people’s work?
  • Do you have to sign off on the majority of business decisions, and get everybody to ask permission for everything?
  • Do you work more than 12 hours per day?
  • Do you avoid going away on holiday, because you firmly believe things will turn to pot without you? 

Empowerment by Delegation

Great leaders inspire trust in others. They empower people by delegating them with business critical tasks, and then leaving them to it, without wrangling for the reins. One key aspect of management development is knowing when to hold em’ and when to fold em’. If staff performance has suffered, perhaps it’s because people are on such a short leash – they aren’t allowed to do anything!

If people can’t do their jobs then train them. If that doesn’t work, initiate corrective measures, if that doesn’t work hire someone else. Authority isn’t a one woman or one man band. It involves sharing the load with others. Delegation is the name of the game.  Be open, positive and empower your staff to thrive in their roles!

Finally, here’s a TED talk by Stanley McChrystal about listening, learning and leading people. An inspirational talk for people with busy minds and schedules.