by Jan Frazier, Planning Plus, LLC

As much as I hate to admit it, I have often been accused of being a micro-manager, something all consultants preach is a big no-no. But as with anything, there certainly is a time and place for this style.

Delegation is revered as a managerial approach to empowering employees, improving efficiency in day-to-day operations, and is considered a “best practice.” The Rules of Delegation dictate that this approach only works if the “delegatee” has the knowledge, skills and experience to get the job done. And we do want to assume our employees have those requisites or they wouldn’t be there (right?). But an employee’s view of the outcome — what the end result should look like, both in style and substance — may be very different than that of the delegator. It’s not a question of skills; it’s a question of definition. And if a common definition of what a completed project looks like is not created, it will be hard to fix on the back end.

Managing for a successful outcome

What are your expectations for the work — as to both what and how? If you have a checklist in mind of how the work will be completed, it’s imperative you share that checklist. Otherwise, both parties could be in for a huge disappointment. Providing this picture of expectations is often called out as micro-managing but that is not always the case. Company culture can have a key aspect.

It may be OK in your organization that as long as the project gets done, we’re happy. But it may be that your culture dictates that projects are completed ahead of the final due date so that there is ample time to review, make edits, and ensure that all I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed prior to final completion.

In this Covid culture when a significant amount of time is spent off-site and not in the same room, e.g. Zoom, group emails, multiple texts, etc., at the end of the discussion have you specifically agreed who is going to do what and by when? And when will everyone follow up? When these pieces are missed, someone needs to step in and ask those questions. This may be considered micromanaging to some but thank goodness someone is stepping up to fill in these blanks.

A culture of performance-based management can go a long way to avoid these types of delegation vs. micromanagement conflicts.

Ensuring that all employees clearly understand what must be done, the expectations of performance (both what and how), and how their work will be evaluated is the first step in a performance-based management culture.

Too often, we are all moving so fast that we make a number of assumptions about how much employees understand what we want and our level of expectations. But that is a dangerous assumption to make.

In those cases, you may find yourself inevitably becoming the dreaded micromanager.

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