Micromanaging – Not Always a Bad Management Strategy

I can’t believe I just wrote these words!  After preaching for years that micromanaging staff drives people from the organization, I am now going to tell you that sometimes it is exactly what you need to do?  Well, here goes…

We usually focus on how to empower employees so that they can learn and grow but what about the times when you as a manager, need to be more closely involved in their work? What kind of balance is needed so you are sure the work is being done without stifling their creativity or enthusiasm?

Here’s an example of when you might need to be more of a micromanager—your organization is going through a huge change initiative. You’re changing strategy or going into new markets or adding a new and very different service or product.  Managers need to provide close direction until everyone involved gets where you’re headed and why.

Major organizational changes can upset even your most seasoned employee. People who are comfortable with their work and who you can almost read your mind and not need much of your oversight in normal situations, suddenly require much more of your expertise and your time so be available to them and yes, micromanage them until such time as they’re ready to step out without so much supervision.

Another example of when you need to micromanage is when a formerly excellent employee starts having trouble completing projects or misses major deadlines. You need to keep a close watch on that person’s work so that things don’t get to far out of hand. Remember, it’s your job to keep your employees on track—even when they’ve been productive in the past. 

You should step in and do your best to get things going the right direction but also take the time to counsel your employee. You may find out they have a serious health issue or problems at home that are taking them off their game. Whatever the reason is for their performance issues, you need to make sure the work gets done in a timely manner and at the highest quality level.

Consider a situation where your major client isn’t happy with the level of service they’re receiving. If this isn’t a time for micromanaging, I don’t know when it would be! You need to get right into the situation and resolve it as quickly as possible and if that means you have to be a micromanager, so be it.

After you’ve hopefully restored your organization’s relationship with the client, then find out what else you need to do to keep productivity as high as possible.

Be careful not to stay in micromanagement mode too long or you will de-motivate your team. Once the situation is resolved, we hope you can return to your supportive, coaching style. If, however, you find yourself enjoying being a micromanager when you don’t need to be, ask a trusted advisor or mentor for help.

Bottom line—short term micromanaging can be a good thing—just don’t let it be your preferred style or you may find yourself either needing to replace good employees who leave you or looking for a new job yourself!

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