He was a gifted entrepreneur with a thriving business and a growing team. At least, that is how it appeared to outsiders who saw the frequent posts for hiring. But behind the curtain lived a dirty little secret: his turnover rate was 100% per year!
When people would leave, Micromanager would say…
“Well, they weren’t a good fit anyway. They couldn’t measure up.”
“They made too many mistakes – three in their first week!”
“They asked too many questions, so I ended up doing the work myself.”
“I am so busy doing everyone else’s work that I don’t have time for my own!”
“I gave them 100 things to do, and they only finished 99. I don’t know why they can’t meet goals.”
“They did a good job of creating content, but one email went out with an incorrect link. How did this happen? We need to get to the bottom of this, so it never happens again. This made me look bad.”
“When they were first hired, they had a lot of energy and enthusiasm. But then they just didn’t seem to care. I don’t know why I can’t find good people.”
“It took me five minutes, but they are taking six minutes. If they can’t produce the determined number of products per hour, then we’re going to have to let them go.”
“A car accident on the way to work? That’s no excuse for being late. They should have planned better.”
While it is true that some team members are not a good fit or don’t really care to do a job well, the fact is that, if a leader has hired well and is leading well, they would not be having issues to the scale of 100% turnover per year.
Some level of turnover is a given: people just don’t work out, circumstances change, or opportunities present themselves for better offers elsewhere. But if the turnover is excessive, then it goes to something deeper.
That something deeper may, indeed, be micromanagement.
At its core, micromanagement is rooted in several things.
- Fear and Insecurity
- Lack of Trust
- Lack of Human Understanding
- Task Focus Versus Team Focus
Good Leadership Versus Micromanagement
There is a difference between good leadership and micromanagement, and it is a difference that ripples all the way to the company’s bottom line. Below are some ways to develop skills for good leadership and avoid the pitfalls of micromanagement.
Strive for Excellence, Not Perfection
It is important to pay attention to details, definitely. But over-focus can lead to striving for perfection, which evades every human being. Instead, good leaders inspire their teams to strive for excellence. If a team member makes a mistake, a good leader will help them understand where things went wrong and work with them to develop a solution for improvement. In this way, the leader is not holding a team member to an impossible standard of perfection; but is, instead, developing a future leader who knows how to solve problems and create solutions.
Focus on Team, Not Tasks
As leaders grow into their leadership role, they learn that, at a certain level of business growth, they are no longer assigners of tasks; they are in the business of developing people. And there is a big difference in these perspectives.
Task assigners give their team members individualized tasks, not often clearly tied to the bigger objectives. To team members, this may feel like busy work or work without purpose. But a wise leader will work with their team to clearly define the objectives and then allow each team member to own a part of it. Yes, there are still tasks to be done; but they are now part of the bigger picture that is clear to everyone.
When a leader assigns tasks instead of allowing ownership of a project or role, the team members will feel used or, in a word, micromanaged. When team members can own the project or role, they will step up to the plate and deliver the results. And if they don’t, a good leader will help them grow and learn from the experience.
When a team member is assigned a project or role, it is also important that the leader not step in to do the work for them. This short-circuits their growth. And it can also have the effect of adding chaos and taking extra time. Your team gains strength by working through issues – allow them the space to grow.
Develop Trust, Not Criticism
For micromanagers, trust is very important. They need to know that they can trust a team member to do their job well. But trust goes both ways. Team members also need to be able to trust their leaders. In a healthy working relationship, there is trust; and trust is bedrock. The leader knows the team has their back and, just as importantly, the team knows the leader has theirs.
Looking to spot a micromanager easily? You will find them criticizing their team to others, often in an effort to make themselves look better.
Encourage Accountability for Objectives, Not Judgment for Unrealistic Expectations
Accountability is important in any business. It is based on developing objectives and then each team member taking accountability for their part in making those objectives a reality. Accountability means clearly defining milestones, target outcomes, and ranges of deliverability (for example, “good, better and best” goals). It is not about setting impossible levels of perfection. It is about aiming together to reach specific goals as a team.
Being accountable for goals is very different from being judged as a person. A micromanager will judge a person, fairly or not, based on their own subjective criteria.
Accountability is focused on goals and objectives. And that difference is a major differentiator between a team that is committed, and a team that feels they could never measure up to unclear expectations.
Here’s the thing. There’s a little Micromanager in all of us. But as leaders, we can learn to watch for the signs, listen to our words, identify the roots, and practice good leadership. Your team will thank you, and the outcomes will reward you for the effort!
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer, and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, and using the Maxwell Method, Deb helps leaders and teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results