Micro-management (is) for Dummies

Micro-managing employees is an effective way to lose excellent talent. So if you’re looking to push your talented employees, the ones with bright futures and willingness to learn, out of your company so that you can maintain your position as the “only one that can do anything right around here”, then micro-managing them is the perfect tool for you!

By overly managing employees you send a message that you don’t trust them and have little confidence in their work.  Employees will respond to this in a couple of ways:

1.) by leaving, because they are good employees and can get a job somewhere else where their boss trusts them and appreciates the work they do, or

2.) by giving you exactly the type of employee you are asking for, one who is devious, lazy and produces poor work.  What’s the sense in them trying, you’re just going to re-do it anyway.

Either way you lost talent in your organization, by them leaving or by you training them to fail.  


Step Away, Helicopter Boss

If you find yourself wondering why you can’t keep good help, be very real with yourself and consider if maybe, just maybe, it’s not everyone else and maybe it’s you.  The reality is that when your employees fail at their job, it is often as a result of poor management.  And if the general consensus among your employees is that you are the master micro-manager, I assure you, it IS you.

Time to break the cycle and here is how.  Call it delegation, assignment or whatever you want, but I like to think of it as passing a torch, one doesn’t do that by just flipping it in the air and hoping its caught correctly.  When you hand the torch, make sure the receiver has a firm grip and is ready to run the race.

·      Set the expectations – what it should look like, how long it should take, etc.

·      Train – teach them how to do it, making sure they understand the importance and what it looks like when it’s not done correctly

·      Verify – check at first to make sure they understand the expectations and training.  Then verify periodically (NOT EVERY DAY) based on importance, competence, or other relevant factors.


Micro-managed Task:  The business owner gets the mail himself every day because he wants to make sure the mail goes to the right place and that stuff is not being hidden from him. After much persuading, he decides to let Sara, the receptionist, get the mail. 

Set the expectations:  Go pick up the mail daily between 12 and 3 pm, divide mail for each department and distribute it immediately, make me a copy of any customer surveys.

Train:  Go get the mail together, separate it together, make copies of surveys together.  Explain to her that the reason why you want to see the customer surveys is because you love to see the great feedback and you want to make sure that any bad feedback is addressed quickly and correctly.

Verify – Check back with Sara within the next few days and ask if the task is going ok and verify a specific item or two about it: “Still making copies of surveys for me?”  As part of your continual management of that employee, check to make sure the task is being done correctly periodically, for this kind of task, maybe checking it once a month is sufficient.

Now just keep doing that, one task or employee or process at a time.  They will notice and begin to feel much better about their jobs and you as their manager.  Your employees want to feel trusted, useful and effective.  Until you assign them meaningful work in a way that allows them to do well, you are denying them the opportunity to thrive. 


My challenge to you:

Identify one task or process that you micro-manage.  Using the method above, entrust it to an employee. 

Let me know how it goes.  sparsons@bluestonebusinesscoach.com