3 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Micro-Manager

Everyone hates reporting to a micro-manager—those leaders and supervisors who watch an employee’s every move and who always have a better way of doing something. But micro-managing is very appropriate in some cases—for example when an employee is brand new to a task.  How can you, as a leader, provide people with the direction and support they need without seeming overbearing?  Here are three tips:

Be clear on goals and tasks.  People need different levels of direction and support depending on the task they are facing.  As a leader your job is to clearly identify each of the tasks an employee has on his or her plate.

Know your people. Most employees are good at some of their tasks and still developing skills in others.  A good manager tailor’s their direction based on what an employee needs and their level of experience.  For example, a salesperson might be great at booking appointments but not so great at using the new conferencing technology to demonstrate the product.  A good manager will recognize the difference and trust the salesperson to book appointments their own way while at the same time using a more directed, hands-on managerial style, when it comes to using the new software.

Provide the right level of direction and support depending on the task.  In this case, the manager needs to take a very hands-off approach when it comes to appointment setting, while at the same time using a very hands-on approach to learning and using the new software.  As long as the manager uses the right style with each task, it won’t feel like micro-managing to the employee.  It will just seem like active, helpful leadership.

Very few employees are experts at all of their tasks these days.  Most people are good at some and still learning in others.  By adjusting leadership style to fit the task at hand, managers can move their people to higher levels of performance without the danger of being labeled a micromanager.

4 thoughts on “3 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Micro-Manager

  1. Ken,
    I would love to know your thoughts on “How do I know if I am a micro manager?” What can a person do, on their own, to step back and diagnose this? Any thoughts?

  2. Pingback: The Micro Manager « The Narrative Imperative: Tell Stories or Die

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