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Micromanaging –and What You Can Do about It

Frank’s company thrived and gradually grew from two employees to 20. But as the company grew, Frank felt less and less in charge—he felt out of the loop when decisions were made, friendships were formed, and information was shared.

Frank decided that he had to be in charge of everything; he began micromanaging. Yet, the more he managed, the less his employees delivered. For the first time in his business life, Frank faced rapid turnover and low morale from his team.

Employees respond poorly to someone who resists delegating, disregards their specialized knowledge, gets involved in their work without consulting them, and is always looking over their shoulders. Micromanaging is occasionally necessary but as a full-time management style it has bad effects on the business as well as on the employees. Because of the manager’s resistance to delegation, projects are delayed or not completed—there’s always another crisis to handle first. Because of the manager’s refusal to consult, decisions are made with inadequate knowledge, wasting time and resources. Because of the manager’s absorption with minutiae, the big picture is lost.

Fortunately for Frank, he was able to recognize that his behavior was contributing to the low morale and rampant turnover. So here’s how we stopped the cycle.

First, we talked about better ways to use his time. A 20-person company has regulatory obligations that a 3-person company doesn’t have. In addition it needs an employee guide or handbook, job descriptions, a 5-year plan, regular employee meetings, a defined culture (mission, values), and a clear objective on the types of business to pursue and how to pursue them.  Frank became involved in the big picture, focusing his own talents on what he does best.

Second, he began building trust. We started with an employee that Frank acknowledged had specialized knowledge. Frank agreed to let the employee handle a specific task and not even mention it until the day before the task was due for completion. When the employee delivered on time and with high standards of quality, Frank handed over another task with the same promise. He began to let go, knowing that mistakes might occur but success was never going to occur if he kept micromanaging.

Third, Frank began reading books about management. His company’s growth demanded a new style of leadership, and he realized he had no idea what that style was or how to adapt it. He learned new habits and alternative ways to handle situations.

For any company experiencing huge turnover, low morale, confusion over responsibilities, or lack of communication in any direction, HR Compliance 101 can help determine if a change in management style will help. Together, we can set up the systems and create a culture that benefits the entire company.

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