Blog Objective

This is a blog that attempts to make life easier by noting down the author's accrued knowledge and experiences.
The author has dealt with several IT projects (in Java EE and .NET) and is a specialist in system development.

12 September 2011

Micromanagement

I just came across an interesting article regarding Dangers of Micromanagement. See here.
I've extracted an excerpt which I'm in total agreement with. The dangers are:
Less risk taking, less initiative, wasted resources. Employees will learn that a micromanager is going to direct in such detail that they will learn to wait for direction in what to do and how to do it.In a micromanagement environment, employees often end up waiting to execute; or they move forward only to be redirected by their manager, wasting valuable time and resources in the process.

Less innovation. When people are being told what to do, there is little to no room for creativity or new solutions. The value of diverse thinking is lost because there is a feeling that mistakes are not acceptable. Micromanagement does not facilitate a "continual improvement" mind-set.
My experiences and observations thus far has not differed from the above.
  1. I’ve worked for micro-managers.
  2. I’ve worked with micro-managers.
  3. I’ve worked in an end-user environment that micromanages our suppliers.
  4. I’ve also worked in a supplier environment that is being micromanaged.
Whether the relationship applies to manager-to-subordinate or client-to-supplier, the same dangers are prevalent.
     In the same article, the counter-measure are:

1. A manager is a leader first, and an expert second. Serve as a coach to employees - cultivate their skills, growth, creative problem solving, etc. Become an expert at leading!
2. Focus on what, not how. What needs to be done? How will success be measured? Focus on results - not methodologies. Provide employees with the metrics and the parameters by which they must operate (e.g., timelines, decision-making authority, scope, resources). To help a team generate its own ideas, ask open-ended questions (not leading ones), and then be quiet and listen. Team members may know of a more efficient and affordable path to achieve a desired outcome.
3. Be clear about expectations! A common mistake is that managers believe they are being clear, when in reality, they are not. I've seen many managers develop an idea of what they want, but withhold that vital information from their team. A manager who can picture a successful outcome should share it.
4. Establish reporting tools and timelines. Delegation is about letting go - and that's not always easy. Proper delegation still requires a manager to provide leadership and mentorship. The delegated work needs to be tracked to provide two-way feedback. Identify the assignment's key tasks and milestones, and then determine when and how feedback should be given. This will give assurance that the project is on track and the opportunity to influence direction or decisions at critical points, rather than at random minor points along the way.
5. Provide context. People like to feel like they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. They need to understand why their assignment is critical. Context for the task allows employees to be more connected to the objective and remain motivated. Plus, when they understand the business context for the assignment, they make better decisions.
Is it time to break free from micromanagement?

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