Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How Do You Break the Micromanagement Cycle?

Inc.com has an interesting article that discusses 10 things entrepreneurs should never micromanage. One of the things listed is employee,s time, but I can think of many other things that shouldn't be micromanaged. In fact, my question is what exactly SHOULD be micromanaged...?

Being overly concerned with the minutia of how a job is completed speaks more about ourselves and less about the skills of the person doing the work. Once you delegate you also must let go. Some say this is about trust and that micromanaging reflects a lack of trust. While I agree, the question remains, how do we stop the cycle of micromanaging?

Once when I was home from University, I remember offering to vacuum. Even though my mom said yes, she proceeded to follow me around the house to point out how to vacuum the front hall, what to do with the floor mat at the entryway and how to dump the whole lot into the trash at the end. I remember our *ahem* "discussion" going something like... "Mom, seriously?! It's not rocket science and besides, I'm pretty sure I learnt how to vacuum from you." (And I am pretty sure that "discussion" was far less polite than I remember it now.)

You'd think I would have learnt just how damaging micromanaging can be. Yeeaahhh right.. Just yesterday I caught myself saying to my lovely man that if he'd just clean the kitchen to the same standards that I did I wouldn't have to harp after him about cleaning the kitchen. (Again, this is my polite, blog memory speaking.)

And that's when it dawned on me. We can break the cycle of micromanaging by focussing on a common understanding of success and delivering better training. We need to be honest and up front with ourselves and our team if we have specific requirements.

To me a clean kitchen is dishes stacked at the sink (even if they're dirty,) the counter wiped, dishrags and tea towels hanging straight and all cupboard doors closed. That's only 4 things. Not a terribly long list but with the way I can carry on about the state of the kitchen I can see how he might as well give up before he's even begun.

Training is simply teaching someone what behaviours are necessary to be considered successful in a certain situation. If we have very specific requiremments for success, we had better be ready to explain those behaviours with a solid checklist, excellent reasoning and a strong training program. Even though we train a lot, (ie: we train our kids to make their beds, we train the dog not to bark at the neighbour,) sometimes it's necessary to call in the big guns like Nanny Joe of Supernanny or Ceaser Milan the Dog Whisperer.

So next time you realize you're reaching for the micromanagement pistol, don't shoot yourself in the foot. Reassess your training program instead: Is your team fully trained to reach success... without you? Do you need to bring in the big guns instead?

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