Monday, May 12, 2008

Micro-Managing Is Dysfuntional

You gotta love that guy who feels like since he's "in charge," he has to have the answer to every problem, issue, concern, etc. He's the guy who has an "uncanny grasp of the intuitively obvious." He's the guy who, even when the issue is obvious and the response even more obvious, (because everyone is actually working on the obvious solution!) will write a three page e-mail rant detailing his frustration that no one is doing anything about the problem. In reality, that's usually not the case.

This type of manager is an "O.D." : an Organization Destroyer. He or she de-motivates with such consistency and ease that they don't realize until it's too late, just how their actions destroy morale, creativity, intrinsic motivation, joy in our work, a sense of accomplishment, etc. They do not really listen, even when they get feedback. They just use that feedback to further their beliefs that they are the only ones with an answer to the problem, any problem, all problems....

The real disappointing thing is most ODs will go about crushing the life out of an organization unintentionally. They don't even realize they are doing it. They have never learned any other way. And until they hit a watershed moment where someone important to them tells them "you're not wearing any pants," (yes, it's a metaphor), they will go happily (or grumpily) about their business, crushing, killing, destroying.

What can you as a leader do about it? Have courage and speak up. This means you must find a way (if you care enough) to talk to this person in charge and help them understand where they are hurting the organization. It's hard to do because these ODs aren't usually very approachable. If you find an unguarded moment, use it. Ask for some time to discuss "stuff." Be creative and take action.

If you don't feel you can approach the individual, then do damage control on the areas or things you have responsibility for and set a leadership example to be followed. Build what you are responsible for through leadership, compassion, respect, consideration, allowing people to make mistakes and learn from them, etc.

Leaders define what's expected, determine who best to meet the expectation, then ask if they can do it and what help do they need. Then it's about accountability and respect...not telling everyone every step they must do to do the job "right."

Leaders manage the mission and the desired outcomes, not the methods used to get there.

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