With superheated competition and a comprehensive examination of everyone and everything in business, these days, the question often asked me is: “How do I know when I’m being a high accountability, very effective manager; or being a micromanaging harasser?” In fact, I just had a conversation about this today, with a good friend and client, Jim Tierney.
Let me answer it this way. Everything of any importance deserves to be monitored. The only question, is how? The high accountability manager, in concert with direct reports, sets specific dates and times for assessing progress on work toward the accomplishment of certain goals. In addition, it is made quite clear, that it is the responsibility of the worker being held accountable, to notify the manager, immediately, of any circumstance that has occurred, that could interfere with the timelines that have been established. It is not the manager’s job to be poking around in anticipation of a failure to achieve results. This poking around, and “checking up,” outside of previously established monitoring meetings, is what I define as micromanagement. (Another good friend and client – Damon Shelly – introduced me to the term “pester management,” which really captures the essence of micromanagement.) It is low trust, disabling, and depreciating. It is assumed, also, that clear consequences for the achievement, or lack of such, have been articulated and understood, by both parties.
Micromanagers do unto others, what was done to them. As soon as the possibility of failing at something looms on the horizon, they are drawn to pestering and harassing, like addicts to meth. The low trust they grew up with kicks in, and it becomes next to impossible to let others struggle, fail, and ultimately, learn. It is important to realize, that micromanagement is the purest form of unlearning. If you want to avoid it, look hard at how you view failing at something, and see what it means to you. Is it an opportunity to learn something new (albeit not a fun experience); or a complete condemnation of who you are as a person? Discovering the answer to this, will prove a lot more fruitful than applying some hackneyed tactics.