By: Ron Guest, Senior Partner, TwoGreySuits
Managers who have a need for very tight control of staff may never come to know that this style almost never leads to better performance. In fact the opposite is true. Micro managing will actually create poor performance because it stifles development of the team. The old adage of managers that hire people ‘to do things for them or to treat them as tools of production’ will in fact never see/experience the true potential in people. But letting go involves some risk and also a lot of trust. How can you learn to trust employees to do the right things if they are never given the opportunity or are always assigned task like work where they are not required to come up with their own ideas or better ways of doing things?
If employees are not afforded opportunities to think independently and take initiative, they will soon leave and the manager will be a burn out candidate because they will end up trying to do everything themselves. (have personally seen this many times) Of course, a sole entrepreneur will need to control everything. But once you decide to add just one new employee your main job is not control but getting others to do what needs to be done. Micro managing is near the top reason employees will decide to leave a company, it reeks of mistrust and results in low commitment and buy-in to the company goals. Micro managing will actually demotivate your team and guarantee that you will do everything yourself because no one does it as well as you do. This happens quite often with newly appointed/inexperienced managers.
Seasoned managers of people know that they have to let go in order to grow. Coaching is all about finding out/understanding people’s thought processes and helping them when they make poor assumptions or take too long or too little time in doing certain things or when they don’t think they have authority to act in certain cases. Even in labor intensive jobs, it is still required to let go, let people figure out how best to get work done (within guidelines of course) and more importantly allow them to work in an environment where they can ask a lot of questions without being chastised or seen as stupid by others. This is how we as humans learn.
In my experience as a coach to various levels of managers, I am always concerned when I see a manager who is afraid to let go because of ‘potential’ mistakes. Come on, how are people going to learn if you are smothering them and not letting them utilize their brains? In client companies when I see non-obvious people in jobs of significant authority, it is always linked back to a manager in their career who was able to significantly let go in order for people to develop. Whenever I quit a job in my career, I always had my replacement selected and developed internally. This is because I was willing to let go and see who would rise to the occasion and then work to develop them.
Very good people managers engage their employees from the very first day. They explain, train, encourage, and ask for input. Once they are certain that the employee understands they strongly encourage them to make decisions on the job. In short, encourage and value employee input and monitor. But gradually let go. Learn to look at key measurements that indicate the employee is on track and understands their job and the value they can add to the company. In summary, get out of the way! Get out of the details. Let go, let them drive and make their own decisions and watch your stress level decrease and your business grow!