Today’s guest post is written by Monica Wofford.
Micromanagement: The act of tediously following up with those you lead to make sure they get the job done.
High performers hate it when you micromanage them, but there are two other types of employees who need it.
If not, they’ll fail and take your team down with them. Even with these two types, micromanagement is best doled out in moderation and for a finite period of time.
In Contagious Leadership, I discuss this extensively. Your style of management should either lead you to satisfaction with that employee’s performance or to the decision to “free them up” for new opportunities to grow…elsewhere.
Employees Who Need Micromanagement
On day one of a new job, questions from, “Where are the restrooms?” to “Where do we eat?” can seem frivolous, but are a vital part of the dipping in the DNA that needs to occur.
Leaders should follow up closely with the new employee ensuring a solid foundation and direction, along with feedback. For the potential high performer, this period of close monitoring should be short. Give them assignments, schedule follow-ups, and provide detailed feedback as quickly as possible.
Don’t leave them to figure it out, even if they ask. This is how bad habits develop quickly. Once they’re formed, it can be hard to change them much like a cruise ship that takes off destined for a specific locale: One or two degrees off-course will lead that boat somewhere else.
Once that happens, cruise ships don’t whip on their blinker and make a u-turn in the middle of the ocean. If you detect the off- course early on when it is still minor, you can quickly correct it, saving the time and effort to turn the whole boat around.
When there’s trouble in paradise and you ignore it, it gets worse and it spreads.
It’s your responsibility as the leader to protect the team’s results from the one “bad apple” or “weak link” that could destroy all outcomes from their efforts. Micromanaging a problem employee means re-visiting the basics.
Share your expectations as quickly as your employee deviates. Clarify the rewards and expectations for performance, and restate what you want from them and what will happen if they continue to choose not to deliver.
Much as you do with the newbies, go back to a shorter time period between “touch base” meetings and follow-up. You might consider this tedious, but the goal is to get this team member back on track as soon as you see the off-course behavior. They may not be new to the team, but addressing the problem when it is new is imperative to effective leadership. Otherwise, the potential exists that a blinker and entire team and tugboat will be impacted.
It takes time and effort to micromanage employees. However, if performance improvement is what you’re after, it’s worth the investment of time. Without it, you’ll be spending far more time later on in doing damage control.
It’s likely your leadership schedule is already tight. Spend the time now and consider it an investment in future results that could provide a big payoff.
What would you add? I’d love to hear from you.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development expert who works with companies and teams worldwide developing leaders whose employees stay longer, complain less, and produce more. She is also the author of the recently released Make Difficult People Disappear (Wiley, 2012) and may be reached on online at @monicawofford or by visiting ContagiousCompanies.