Use Micro-Management as a Learning Tool

Micromanagement gets a bad name. Deservedly so – you will alienate your best people if you tell them how to size the columns and what font to use for the Tracking Performance Spreadsheet reports, and really make them feel like children when you stand over them to dictate the angle of the staple when they attach the new cover page to that TPS report.

That kind of micromanagement alienates and drains productivity, especially when you’re not right there.

Avoidance of micromanagement has become an excuse, however, for leaders to sit back too much. We use the rationale that it’s time to let people learn on their own, leave the nest, or experience consequences viscerally.

Sometimes, though, when there are performance issues, leaders need to step in and demonstrate step-by-step work.

Let’s please redefine “micromanagement” as situations like that first paragraph: The controlling and dictation of all elements of tasks, particularly tasks which the person has already mastered.

But if we take out the “already mastered” condition – then extreme coaching might be the right path. One way to look at coaching: It is intense, focused feedback.

And, it’s absolutely needed in low performance situations.

If someone hasn’t mastered their work yet, we need to step in. If someone should have mastered their work by now, and is still struggling, we really need to step in.

Before we give up and let the person go, or move them, try micromanaging. Assume the best about them – that they really want to do a good job, and do everything needed to get them to be productive.

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