Micro-management is a bad word in business today. Leaders and managers alike are disowning the word like it’s a bad disease. It’s a common word that disgruntled employees will use when leaving a company. And, in reality, it is a bad thing….mostly.
But, I want to submit to you that there are some times that a leader should utilize this technique to leading those around him/her. I would never go as far as to say that it’s ok for a person to micro-manage the team. In fact, apart from the times listed below, I would say that it is never ok for a leader or manager to micro-manage and it actually leads to a lower-quality product and a dis-enchanted team.
I have found 3 distinct times when it’s important to micro-manage someone. They are:
- When a person is new to the organization. A person new to the organization doesn’t understand organizational culture. He/she doesn’t know the best way to get things done. The new person will need someone to come along side them and help them understand the norms and processes of the organization. Also, a person that is new to the organization is not known by the leader/manager. It is important that the leader spends time with him/her – to understand their capacity for work, to understand how they’re wired, and to understand how they accomplish their work. The period of time of micro-managing in this example will differ depending on the complexity of the organization, but should not go on for any longer than is absolutely necessary.
- When a person is new to the team. Similar to the first point, a person who is new to the team needs to be micro-managed. They need to learn you as their leader and you need to learn them as a member of the team. You should spend extra time with them and help them understand what you expect and how they get things done under your leadership. A person that is new to the team will not have the inside perspective of the team dynamics and will not be up to speed on the inner-workings of your department. Once again, the time will vary here, but should not drag on.
- When a person is not performing well. This is probably the most important time to micro-manage someone. As a leader/manager, it is your responsibility to remove obstacles for those that you lead. It is critical when you have a team member who is not performing well, that you exhaust all options in order to help them improve their performance. That means that you must spend time with them and personally oversee the work that they’re doing. Micro-management in this instance can help to encourage the poor-performing person, re-set expectations, and assess whether continued employment or involvement by this person is possible.
So, there’s my list of 3 times to micro-manage someone.