Friday, July 22, 2011

Is Micromanagement Hurting Your Business?

From, reprinted by permission

Is micromanagement hurting your business? If you or another supervisor at your company is a micromanager, it could be causing more problems than you know. In a recent survey by FINS, 68 percent of employees said they’d turn down a dream job if their boss would second-guess everything they did.

Micromanagement affects the majority of the workplace. According to another survey cited by FINS, nearly 80 percent of people have been micromanaged at some point in their careers. Of those, 85 percent said micromanagement damaged their morale, nearly three-fourths said it hurt job performance and more than one-third had changed jobs to escape it.

Small business owners frequently micromanage because they feel that the business is their “baby” and no one can do things as well as they can. This attitude keeps your employees from developing their skills—which ultimately hurts your business. If employees feel you don’t trust them, they’ll become resentful and stop trying. Then, you’ll have even more burden on you, and your business won’t grow.

What can you do to nip micromanagement in the bud—whether it’s coming from you or another manager at your company? The first step is recognizing that a problem exists. That’s fairly easy if the problem is coming from someone else—but if you’re the micromanager, you may not realize it.

One way to learn how you’re really doing is to encourage an honest relationship with employees. You can institute 360 degree performance reviews, in which you get reviewed by everyone who reports to you. Or maybe you can ask a partner or key employee in the business you trust to give you some honest feedback. (Personally, one of the best things anyone ever did for me was the time one of my direct reports confessed my micromanaging was driving her crazy.)

Once you’ve identified the problem, the next step is determining how to handle it. Micromanagement often stems from a desire for information, says one expert cited by FINS. To help eliminate micromanagement, sit down with your employees to discuss what kind of information you need from them. Figure out a system in which they can provide you with the information so you don’t need to bug them about it.

Gaining information can be something as simple as holding weekly status meetings or having employees check items off a chart when a task is completed. A complex business with multiple deadlines may want to implement project management software such as Basecamp or Zoho. Using these tools, employees can update project status as they complete tasks. The micromanager can log in and get all the information he or she needs, without being a pest.

Of course, sometimes you have to recognize that you’re simply asking for too much information. This is where you and your team need to have an honest discussion. What aspects can you leave out of the equation? Find a middle ground that won’t drive your team crazy, but will still leave you feeling confident that nothing is falling through the cracks.

The more you let go and trust your team, the more they will grow and the faster your business will grow.