Could the idea of keeping a lid on your organization’s growth be a real sustainable paradigm? Today’s economic climate demands innovation and greater creativity to solve current problems. Fortunately, all of our organizations can tap into the diversity of thought that resides within our human capital reservoirs and find new solutions, new products, and new markets.
All too often though, personal insecurities, lack of training and management misconceptions suppress creativity, motivation and efficiencies. Do you know of a manager that closely observes or controls the work of subordinates? Merriam Webster indicates that the term micromanage is “to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details.” This may seem like a good management focus area but people are obviously different from machines where constant monitoring is required to ensure variables do not get out of hand.
As the organization was built, we hired our team members for a specific skill set that they could fulfill. Their particular contribution complements and supplements other areas of the organization as well. As a manager, we certainly know some things BUT we do not know what we do not know. What will our employee’s be able to enlighten us on that can be done better, faster, cheaper?
Google reports that the term “micromanager” is searched an average 22,000 times a month and a parallel term “the control freak” 74,000 times a month. These observables indicate that micromanaging is a topic of concern and if it is not arrested in time… some elements of personal motivation is bound to be squelched within the organization. Would you pay for a performance car only to put a governor on the vehicle? That is in essence what happens when we are dealing with genius capital.
To be sure, micromanaging can be beneficial in the short term if we are the experts on a given task and need to create successors that can carry the baton. In time though, we need to step back and realize that there are many ways to get a job done and ours may just be up for a renewal.
Micromanaging on a long-term basis is a survival ploy for self-preservation and a means to perpetuate a “keep the status quo” mindset within the organization. It does not communicate a synergistic tone where cooperation germinates shared ideas that may yield a better solution than any one contributor could offer on their own. Overt and continuous micromanaging will soon translate into personnel mismanagement.
Micromanagers actions communicate one, or more, of the following subliminal messages:
- I don’t trust you
- You are incompetent without me
- I am insecure
- I don’t care what you think
- It better be done my way
- I need to show my power
- I don’t have anything else better to do
- I want the credit
Individuals want to be a part of a winning organization but when their own sense of identity is robbed, their spirits diminish and the marketplace becomes an attractive pastime in search of better opportunities. In time, the organization will experience unnecessary turnover, high recruiting costs, additional training and the loss of the original investment made in a former employee.
Isolated incidences of micromanagement can be construed as a benefit when one is pushing the envelope of normalcy forging into new arenas that are visionary for the very few. Steve Jobs (Apple), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jeff Bezo’s (Amazon) and Walt Disney (Disney) are all reported famous micromanagers that took on high-risk ventures but their vision was ahead of its time. An accommodating, complacent business paradigm would not have catapulted these companies into stardom on a global scale, and most of their employees understood this concept going along for the ride until they became part of the vision.
For most organizations however, moderate risk taking is the norm with controlled incremental growth being the desired outcome. Employees will perform their best when they have a sense of autonomy, they understand the purpose of their task (and the organization’s mission) and they are given the opportunity to master their role. As a manager, realize that you can actually achieve more by doing less yourself when you empower your employees. Give credit where credit is due and show your appreciation for novel approaches that are just as effective, if not more. Harry Truman, 33rd US President, encapsulated these thoughts best when he said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
If you are an employee working for a micromanager you can help the micromanager reduce their stress level by:
- Saying What you Are Going to Do
- Doing What you Say You Will Do
- Informing Proactively When Things Change
In business, there is a symbiotic relationship between managers and employees. Mutual respect is a common thread that must flow across layers of our collective human capital in order to maximize potential on both personal and organizational levels. Where could you be tomorrow if you remove the micromanager control lid and enable your organization to perform at its peak?
By Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz, CDE, CM, MBA