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First-time Managers: Don't Micromanage

If your company culture is all about empowering employees, your managers need to know how to step back and just listen.
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I love promoting people to first-time managers. They now have a different perspective on what their own managers deal with every day, and most of the time, they say something like, "Oh, I get it now. There are PEOPLE involved."

In my opinion, first-time managers should not manage people; they should manage situations and promote ideas for their team. Gone wrong, they get an ego, the perceived power goes to their heads and they end up having a team that not only hates them but now hates working at your company.

People don't just leave a company for money or benefits. They often leave because they don't feel appreciated by their boss. And if they were good, you now have a big hole to fill.

I've seen unsuccessful micromanagers:

  • Tell employees what to do every moment of the day (this only works if you hired them to be task managers).
  • Interrupt an employee in the middle of a task to tell them what they're doing wrong--especially if they're in an open environment where everyone can hear. (Ouch!)
  • Make all the decisions or recommendations instead of asking their employees for input. Outcome? They'll always look to you for what to do and will never feel like they have a stake in a decision. It's just easier that way, to them. Why bother?

In my opinion, here are what successful leaders do:

  •     Remove hurdles that employees have in their way that are preventing them from getting their jobs done.
  • Listen to any issues that team members have, and ask for their recommendations on what a solution should be. Empowerment.
  • Gain trust from their team.

At my online marketing company, VerticalResponse, we've done three things to help out managers from top down and bottom up:

1. Instituted a Management Program

Every few months, we bring in a management professional to role-play and go through some interesting situations our managers have gone through. The professional is extremely aware of our culture and how we like to manage, so they lead the team in a direction that promotes it.

2. Leave Doors Open

Anyone should be able to go in and ask a question or pitch a gripe.

3.  Actively make ourselves available at lunches or after work.

People want to talk to managers in a more relaxed environment. When guards are down information flows! The team feels more comfortable and close to the manager when they can talk to them about what they're feeling.

If you've got a micromanager on your team, you need to talk to them about their actions. We've had managers who unnecessarily needed everything to go through them before they let any documents be seen. Heck, some managers didn't even allow their team members to talk to me without them knowing first. (They're long gone now!)

Hey, sometimes managing all the details is needed, but if you set up your company culture to empower employees, you've got to let them know to step back and just listen.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, sign up for the free VR Buzz weekly newsletter and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jan 14, 2013




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