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No one likes to be micromanaged. It implies a lack of trust.

And a lack of respect.

And a seeming belief that you just can’t get things done on your own.

Why would anyone LIKE that?!

Many (most?) people, it turns out, don’t.

Truth vs. Perception

Consider a classic case of micromanaging: Someone gets an assignment on Monday that’s not due until Wednesday, and the boss comes asking about it on Tuesday.

Now there may be some really reasonable reasons that have nothing to do with trust or respect or regard.

  • The boss just might be interested.
  • The boss might be really interested!
  • The boss needs to tell his/her boss how things are going.
  • The boss might have just been reminded about the assignment when s/he saw you.
  • The boss is naturally impatient.
  • The boss just wants to be sure you haven’t forgotten about the assignment.
  • The boss just wants to see if you need any help or additional information to make it easier to do what’s been asked.

In all fairness to the boss – or at least bosses, in general – micromanagement isn’t always grounded in a lack of trust or respect or regard for an employee or his or her capabilities.

But more often, than not, it IS at least partially rooted in the boss’s lackluster organizational, planning, and delegation skills.

Thinking it Through

If you think about it, there’s really no reason for a boss to micromanage if that boss has good organizational, planning, and delegation skills – regardless of whether s/he trusts or respects a particular direct report, or not.

Providing consistently clear, concise, meaningful, and deadline-driven assignments is a far easier and much more efficient method for sifting the lumps out of the flour, as it were.

But providing consistently clear, concise, meaningful, and deadline-driven assignments does have a few prerequisites:

  1. The boss must be fairly-well organized – so s/he knows, can remember, or be easily reminded what needs to be done, by whom, and by when.
  2. The boss must know to plan somewhat effectively – so s/he knows what will need to be completed, by when, and why what’s not needed quite yet isn’t needed, quite yet.
  3. The boss must know how to delegate reasonably well – so the items identified in (1) and (2) can be appropriately assigned/worked/completed without unnecessary interruptions.

So dear leaders, if you feel the need TO micromanage…micromanage YOURSELF! Turn your attention inward to improving the three sets of skills listed above by asking yourself, repeatedly, these fairly simple questions:

  • Re: becoming more organized –
    • How well-organized are you?
    • How about now?
    • How about NOW?!!!
  • Re: becoming better at planning –
    • What’s the plan?
    • How about now?
    • How about NOW?!!!
  • Re: becoming better at delegation – 
    • Are you good at it yet?
    • How about now?
    • How about NOW?!!!

See what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that?!!!

The Competency is the Instruction

But let’s say you actually DO spend some energies becoming more organized and better at planning and delegation. What are the likely results?

  1. You’ll actually BECOME better organized – which means you likely won’t need to go looking over your staff’s shoulders to see if you need to ‘re-tell’ them something or ‘first-tell’ them something you forgot to mention in the first place.
  2. You’ll actually learn to plan more effectively – which means you will likely have fewer last-minute crises to dump on your staff and will actually be able to help them better create a space for whatever is likely to be heading down the pike.
  3. You’ll actually be able to delegate more capably – which means you will be able to consistently provide clear, concise, meaningful, and deadline-driven assignments to your staff, thus dramatically reducing the need to micromanage in the first place.

And, most helpfully, you’ll actually be amazed at how much better your staff does – and how much more they’ll come to appreciate the new and improved you, as they naturally become so much more productive and engaged as a way of saying thanks for not being such a pain in the @#%$&!, anymore!



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