Following recent Lego themes in my writing and reflecting on The Lego Movie, 2014. The villan – President Business is assisted by a legion of Micro Managers which need to be overcome by the Master Builders (the heros).
During a meeting in the last week, I had an extended discussion about a good business challenged by micromanagement. Where highly experience managers were experiencing frustration from a leader who was micromanaging them. It made them and their team uncomfortable, plus it was distracting, despite achieving the desired metrics in the business. Ultimately, leading them to question their future in the business.
This was due to highly prescriptive behaviours, where it was felt that there was confusion over responsibility and accountability. There was a great deal of care about the business, however concern about the future.
It made me reflect that we see this a lot, where key knowledge workers and managers seek to achieve mastery in their chosen area and enjoy a level of autonomy to deliver value in the business.
My work in technical fields means that work with many leaders and business owners that have I engineering or trade backgrounds, where detail orientated hands on styles have served them well in their work and in establishing a small business. Many are unaware that they stile experienced and capable people.
“Controlling personalities have a tendency to stifle rather than nurture creative people. The need to do things in a regulated way constricts the space in which creative people need to grow.” Mark Goulston, HBR, September 2004
In organisations micromanagement is linked to anxiety, perhaps an Impostor syndrome and perfectionism. Concern about mistakes or errors leading behaviours that imply a lack of trust or competence.
“For the sake of your team, you need to stop,” says Muriel Maignan Wilkins, “Micromanaging is a hard habit to break… What can you do to give your people the space they need to succeed and learn? How should you prioritize what matters? And how do you get comfortable stepping back?”
The manifestation of micromanagement can be massive, leading to good people questioning themselves, second guessing themselves and loosing confidence in their judgement and future at work.
The flip side is establishing ground rules, opening up frank and fearless conversations, tolerance of learning and the odd mistake. Moving towards removing perceived barriers and unlocking the value that the people in the business can bring if positively challenged.
For Owners and Leaders, many don’t realise their impact on others. Self-awareness is key and knowing ourselves enough to be aware of how our behaviours can create issues, can be negative when they are stressed. I really like HBDI’s assessment, which shows our normal profile, and our profile under pressure. The profiles are so telling. Mine is really accurate.
Take the time to consider how people are responding to you at work and at outside of it. Try to find out what they really think of your behaviours. Think about how members like to be supported and how they would like to see accountability work.
“There may be a few failures as your team learns to step up, but ultimately they will perform much, much better with greater accountability and less interference.” Jannifer Chatman, HBR, August 2015
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Recently, I have been booking calls to reconnect with people that I have worked with previously, it is has been fantastic, learning how much their work has changed and how they are moving forward. If you would like to speak, please feel welcome to book a call, or in those rare instances, grab a coffee. https://calendly.com/adamcallender
Photo credit: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash