I am in a room with 11 sales directors who have been identified as ‘not able to let go, not letting their sales reps develop, taking over their work…”
As part of a 4 month programme, the directors start by giving their perspectives and context. As I listen to their stories, I am conscious of how typical the problem of micro managing is and the consequences that this has on teams and organisations.
Are you a micro-manager? Do any of these apply to you:
- I find it difficult to embrace uncertainty
- I have little faith and trust in my staff
- I am reluctant to let my staff take considered risks
- I punish my staff when mistakes are made
- My staff do not have a voice and their ideas are not listened to
- I do not share information readily
- My staff do not have clear stretching goals and objectives which are aligned to the vision and strategy of the organisation and they don’t see how they contribute to this
If you have ticked any of the above, you may find these 9 tips useful in helping you to stop micro managing and suffocating your staff.
1. Be confident in your decision and their ability
Are you confident in your decision that the person has the right skills, knowledge and resources to do the job? If you are, then articulate and demonstrate this to the employee. Show that you trust him to do the job and ‘walk the talk’. If you are not confident, are there some developmental issues that you need to address?
2. Roles, goals and the bigger picture
Engage with your staff so that they know the company’s purpose and strategy and the ways in which it intends to get there. Help them to see the bigger picture and how their roles, goals and objectives contribute to the success of the team/ department /organisation and the bottom line.
Take the time to educate them about aspects of the business that will help them to do their job (current financial results, long-term objectives, market share information, other relevant statistics…).
The more you share, the more valued your employees will feel and will develop a better connection with the business.
3. Delegate authority and autonomy
Give them the authority they need to make decisions. Establish metrics in advance so that they know what the desired outcomes are and set clear standards for performance results.
Give them room to discover their own individual methods to approach their work. The degree of independence you give should correspond to each person’s level of experience and competence. Not all of your staff will be at ease with a high level of autonomy. Ascertain what level of guidance they will need from you at the beginning.
4. Check for understanding
Clarify understanding and interpretation by getting feedback. What must be achieved? How the task will be measured? What are the deadlines for completion? Agree on milestones and progress reports and how you will monitor. Inform relevant personnel who may need to know what is happening
5. Provide resources and support
Delegating authority without providing sufficient organisational support will set them up for failure. Give them the tools, techniques, training to handle a wide variety of situations from technical to soft skills.
The degree of support will vary on the employee skills and knowledge and experience level. Start with small steps to begin with.
6. Hold them to account to produce the outcomes needed
Ask the employee to assess himself. If the target is not met or the work is not satisfactory, hold to account and discuss. You are there for advice, perspective, and guidance, but the employee manages the solution. Resist from stepping in and taking control in solving it. If you are communicating and measuring against set standards, you will know if you need to get more involved.
7. Acknowledge that mistakes and failures will happen
Mistakes and failures are part of the learning process. Be prepared for this. Have courage and show some of your own vulnerability. Share some of the failures that you experienced in similar situations and what you learnt from them. Help them to analyse problems and determine how to prevent similar occurrences in the future.
Rather than immediately blaming individuals, look first for weaknesses in your efforts to offer them increased autonomy. Did you give someone more authority or responsibility than he or she was ready to handle? Was sufficient training provided? Were goals and expectations clearly stated?
8. Coach, step back but be present
Looking over their shoulders and continually checking up on your staff will wipe out their self-confidence and desire to take the initiative. Coach your employee to do the job – both technical and soft skills. Provide the support, guidance and encouragement to help the employee achieve results.
It will take time and patience but the rewards are well worth it. You don’t have to be hands-on for the right outcomes to occur, but neither are you uninvolved and unaware of what’s occurring.
Give continued encouragement, support and reinforcement and acknowledge small successes and accomplishments.
Take the opportunity to cultivate a coaching approach and watch your staff grow in their competence and confidence and develop a sense of meaning and purpose in their work. You will be amazed at how much more effective they will become.