Management involves actively monitoring the progress of our people through the numerous twists and turns that they will encounter as they learn and master the skills necessary to achieve excellence in their jobs. And yet I can feel the fear emanate from leaders as we discuss coaching and following up. I know that leaders fear these tough conversations for a number of reasons – in fact too many to list in this blog.
The fear I would like to address here is what I call Micromanagement Phobia: The fear of being called a micromanager. Notice that did not say you were a micromanager. Just that you did not want to be called one. Leaders strive to be careful not to even create the perception that they are a micromanager, as they fear that people will accuse them of it behind their back.
Here’s the issue: Management involves follow up. To abdicate the right to follow up is to abdicate the position of a manager. Now I hate micromanagement as much as anyone. Perhaps more. I will not engage in it any more that I will tolerate it from another.
Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines micromanagement as “management especially with excessive control or attention on details”. The key here is ‘excessive’. A micromanager does not allow the employee to make decisions or take action that they are totally capable of without first checking with them. Now, you may ask: Who is to determine what is appropriate? Clearly that is the manager. If you have an employee that is chafing that you are not allowing enough empowerment, or that you are following up too often, then you are certainly at risk of being accused of micromanagement.
In Leadershift we discuss four levels of freedom that allow you to delegate the appropriate level of authority to employees, based on the type of task involved and also their personal competence.
- Implement – No Need to Inform
- Implement and Inform
- Consult Before Implementing
- Wait Until Told
Our goal as leaders should be to move individuals to as high a level of freedom as is possible.