2012-03-14

Micromanagement – the killer of creativity

Drake Editorial Team

Whether you are new to managing people, or have been in a leadership position for many years, it is critical to analyze your management style to ensure that you are not a micromanager.


Do your team members shy away from speaking freely and openly to you because they feel that you might disagree?
When a team member approaches you with an idea or concept, it is important for you to simply listen, acknowledge and give them credit for being creative and taking initiative.  If you do not agree with the idea, try to find parts of it that you can use, coupled with your own ideas to make it a collaborative effort. If you do agree with the idea, implement it and give full credit to that individual.


Do you feel that you have a really good handle on all projects in your department down to the most minute detail?
If you answered yes to this question, you are definitely micromanaging as you should not know every detail. What you should have is a snapshot of the existing projects in your department, including who they are assigned to and the deadline dates. Then, have in place a mechanism to receive regular progress reports and a system to track deadlines. Unless someone comes to you with specific questions or roadblocks, allow the work to flow and deadlines to be met. The only caveat to that would be if a person perpetually misses deadlines or performs poorly. Then, address that person only and don’t allow it to force you into micromanagement.


Do your team members come to you for every problem, no matter how small, and you provide the solution?
If they do, then over time they have felt that you lack confidence in their ability to make decisions, make mistakes and learn from those experiences. Like raising children, your goal as the manager is to "raise" employees. In other words, you want them to mature in their abilities so they can go out on their own so to speak. Similar to parents, managers often think that if they spend time training and allowing their team members to achieve high levels, that they are not needed any more. That could not be farther from the truth. It only means that you are freed up to handle higher level work within the organization as you will have proven your leadership talent.


Listen to your team members when they speak. Show that you are interested in their point of view. If you do not completely agree, agree with whatever you can and interject only information that they can use to strengthen their ability to handle the project.


Purposefully look for ways to compliment and encourage your team members even if it is for a very small success. When they do come to you with problems, ask them for the solution. If they do not readily have one, give them a concept to go on and ask them to start there and return with a solid solution. If they are still stuck and the solution does require your expertise, go ahead and advise, but make sure the team member is the one who actually performs the work associated with the solution. Do not do it yourself. This will help them the next time they are in a similar situation. By doing the work themselves, they will build confidence and add tools to their problem-solving toolbox.


Stay in your office or at your workstation except in the morning to greet your team. Walk around a time or two late morning and early afternoon to check on your team generally, but not specifically. This will give them the impression that you care, while at the same time not looking over their shoulders.


Micromanagement is the killer of creativity. It stunts growth and no one wins. By using the ideas in this article, not only will you be a successful leader, but you will have a happy, productive and successful team!


Jane Schulte is the founder of PRISM Business Advisors located in Greater Cincinnati, USA, and Author of WORK SMART, Not Hard! Please visit http://www.stop-struggling.com to purchase the book and to read other business articles.

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