"Oh! There is some issue with the data presented for our annual review meeting. Did it go through you before it was shared with the Executive team? Were you also a part of this exercise? Did they run it through you?"
Relatable? Yes, this is how we bring in micromanagement to our people and processes. This is how we trigger and train our managers to be everywhere.
In a recent Accountemps survey, Fifty-nine percent of workers reported working for a micromanager at some point in their careers. The same study also reflected that sixty-eight percent of them said it decreased their morale and fifty-five percent said it hurt their productivity.
Organisations give credit to managers for all the outstanding work they deliver and hold them for anything that goes wrong. It is considered extreme ignorance on the manager's part if there is a slight miss from one of the team members. The above-stated remark would be so handy for everyone to use. Imagine, with this approach, how can micromanagement be reduced when a leader is expected to be a part of everything. Organizations should be a little more receptive and open to understanding that there will be misses, and there has to be a better way to find solutions than having managers accountable for every action in this manner.
We effortlessly cite that micromanagement is terrible for teams but have we really clarified it well? Is everybody not okay with being monitored at every step? How much of managing is micromanaging? Who would be able to rightfully determine that? These questions are not to scare or confuse but to accept that micromanagement, like any other behavior-oriented action/process, is not binary. Trying to formulate it is beyond imagination; there is no straightforward way to differentiate between management and micromanagement; every individual has a different perspective, understanding, and need.
Looking at the current scenario, where work from home also plays a prominent role in widening the gap between being at the same place and working together, more than creating a great organizational culture, it is crucial to build a unique system where you don't get over-involved, but at the same time, you don't leave the ends completely open. Organizations should find a path between "I trust you blindly, do whatever you feel is right as you know your work and people best" and "We should have a daily meeting to understand what you and your team members have been doing. A daily status sheet will be highly appreciated."
Practically physically, fundamentally, or conceptually, micromanagement is neither doable nor feasible. Still, few of us fall into the trap and dent the collaborative bonding and trust more than anything else. In my opinion, here are a few suggestions to have a healthier, managed workforce:
Identify your WHY
Knowing why will lead to how. It's essential to know why people behave in a particular manner; it could be insecurity, distrust, or the perceived need; it should be identified and addressed.
Feedback is critical. What is perceived is way different from what's happening. Our intent may be to support, but what if team members do not accept it well? An anonymous survey or a feedback mechanism created through a third party will fetch in the details showing what's working and what's not. Organizations should conduct regular surveys to get the pulse.
Build an environment where team members can comfortably communicate and be open about their issues and concerns. The understanding between the people working together should be such that they can clearly state what they will be able to manage on their own and where they may seek some help or guidance.
Most companies, by default, let managers decide the flow and never put a checkpoint in place. Though it's a more soft/people issue than the technical one, some sort of monitoring and definition would help streamline the unstructured approach of managers. Organization for a group or committees where such matters are reported leads to at least discussing and understanding the scenario, which invariably becomes the first step towards finding a solution,
Accept what exists and is real
To most of us, managing employees means telling them what to do and checking if that's being done as defined. We have been taught that managers are always right. They know who can do what and where all interventions or close monitoring will be required. Organizations need to accept that human behavior drives the people in the team and technical expertise drives the project or process. Mixing both and leaving it entirely to the manager could be disastrous. The issue is that most organizations don't even have ""micromanagement"" as a term to discuss or address; it doesn't exist, and that has to change.
Train your people
Let individuals put across their definition of micromanagement and their workflow. Talk to them and tell them how managing is different from micromanaging. More than a generic approach, discuss their team, process, flow, project, and people to know if the gap identified is real and should be addressed or just because of some anonymous feedback; we are overreacting and disturbing a set system.
It will never be an easy task to address or overcome the issue of micromanagement wholly as we are dealing with people and emotions. As an organisation, it is vital to stabilize the scenario to the best possible extent, as people are all we have. Leaders should talk about how different strategic involvement is from a transactional one and how people managers should free themselves from running after every small thing and save time to invest in better and bigger work.
Keep an eye out for it as you develop your people and practices. Have focused conversations; more about the pros of not micromanaging than the cons of micromanaging, as one can strengthen the trust and the other can break the bond.