Let Go of Details to Avoid Micromanaging

An Exclusive

CHICAGO — I’ve written 11 other columns this year that express my personal opinion on issues pertaining to our industry, but the most glaring issue that faces all of us today is the issue of micromanagement. A recently published article indicated that the federal work force has more micromanagers than any business sector.
After more than 30 years in the federal sector, out of the six managers I had, all but the first was a culprit of micromanagement, not just in my office, but throughout their careers. You’d have thought that they would’ve learned from my first manager, but since they could never fill his shoes, they had to rely on micromanagement instead. It’s lucky for them that they’re still around.
Managers like these need to recognize that employees, in spite of what they may think, are suffering because of an apparent lack of leadership. While I’m confident that there are varying degrees of micromanagement, these managers must take responsibility for the situations they create. It’s certainly more critical to develop future managers than browbeat employees.
The unfortunate situation is that our industry is full of these individuals who think they are leaders but are certainly not — not by any definition of “leader” except perhaps for one based on the title held.
One of the most difficult but most important transitions, regardless of whether you’re a manager or even a captain or a general, is letting go of the details. It takes courage and trust to let others manage day-to-day operations, but a true leader must learn to let go. This is probably more difficult for someone who came up through the hierarchy of an organization than it is for someone who is vaulted into a position because of who — rather than what — they know. If this transition doesn’t happen, the entire organization suffers and an impasse is inevitable. It may take time to see this happen, but believe me, it will.
As I have said in previous columns, it’s crucial to listen to your employees. They provide insight that will help prevent managers from making huge mistakes, and they will establish goals so that leaders can support the management team/employees.
If you are someone who falls into the dark side of micromanagement, then do yourself a favor and get some help. Not a shrink, but some real management training outside of your organization. Your weakness will result in an inability to consider ideas other than your own. You must learn to listen!
Organizational growth requires innovation and change. This can’t happen if you suppress ideas. We all need constructive discussions with our employees. You must work toward harmony in your organization and see positive attributes in each and every employee. You must replace blame and judgment with high hopes and constructive initiatives based on the input of your employees, not based on what you dream about at night.
Committed and passionate managers can make a difference. Micromanagers, and you know who you are, just drag down an organization and leave no room for growth. You may look good when you view yourself in the mirror, but you’re not a real leader.
As we close out the calendar year and venture into 2009, I want to add that we should all get behind our new President. Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays!


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