People management is both science and art. It’s science in terms of how it is governed by established paradigms and models derived from extensive research. It’s an art in terms of how people management involves, well, people, with varied beliefs, priorities, and predispositions, which means there are no systems that can definitively sum up what constitutes the best approach.
What works for one team may not work with another. A management approach that proves beneficial to one person may not necessarily yield the same results when applied to another. That is to say that people management requires knowledge of empirical data as well as good old instinct.
If there’s one thing about people management that will have most human resource experts nodding their heads in agreement, that would be the inefficacy of micromanaging. First, let’s define micromanaging. It refers to a management style where all aspects of activity are closely controlled and monitored. Now that many employees work remotely due to the pandemic, bosses fall prey to micromanaging.
What micromanaging says about you
Micromanaging says that you lack trust in your people. You are afraid that their deliverables won’t be delivered on time and within the specific parameters of the task outlined hence you feel the need to constantly bombard them with reminders, updates, and what-not.
Adapting micromanagement as your style might come off as lacking imagination. There are more clever ways to keep your team productive without treating them like toddlers on bikes with training wheels.
Why micromanagement eventually fails
Micromanagement wastes a lot of time. Time you can devote to more pressing concerns or responsibilities. Instead of calling every remote member of your team to provide instructions and receive updates many times in a day, why not begin the quarterly sales report you haven’t started and which is due in a fortnight? Instead of reminding a subordinate via e-mails to pay independent contractors online again and again, why not spend your time outlining a report on how to potentially improve e-commerce sales based on your recent industry-related readings?
Micromanagement robs staff of confidence in doing their work. This can easily lead to employees losing morale. In any business, that’s one of the worst things that can happen. Keep in mind that unhappy people may lead to subpar products and services.
How not to micromanage
The operative word is delegate. This is most applicable to upper management. If you’re in charge of a big team composed of smaller teams, learn to delegate to your second in command. Make them accountable for their micro team’s performance. You do not need to go down the line all the way to the lowest rank to ensure organizational objectives are met.
If you happen to be the leader of the aforementioned smaller team within a big team, you can still do without micromanagement. The key is to always provide clearly stated tasks with clearly defined objectives. Those should be enough to steer your group toward accomplishing their assigned duties.
When to micromanage
Micromanagement is very seldom beneficial to the micromanager and the micromanaged. But there are special cases when it is needed. For example, when dealing with new hires.
New hires need guidance. For a week or two, you need to constantly check new employees in terms of how they are adapting to the office culture in general and in their job in particular. This is the best time to give and receive feedback from the newbie. The latter might provide a new perspective on organizational systems in place that can prove insightful. After all, it takes a new pair of eyes to see shortcomings present in old established ways.
Another scenario where you can micromanage is when a team member is performing below their usual capacity. Here you can use micromanagement to determine the reason behind the person’s sudden change in pace.
If you can avoid micromanaging your team, it’s in your best interest to do so. Allow your team to perform and shine without breathing down their neck all the time. Remember that if you work as a manager or a team leader, people management is just one aspect of your job. You also need to take on, for instance, product management, among other critical duties.
You already have a lot to juggle even without micromanaging people so better set your priorities straight. Give yourself a break and trust your team to do its job. That goes without saying that giving specific directions and feedback is necessary from time to time. Just don’t overdo it. Weekly Zoom meetings should suffice. Otherwise, you might get the exact opposite of what you have set out to do, and that is becoming someone controlling but ironically not in control.