Image source: Death by Micromanagement: The Zombie Function
... are you a micromanager? If you demonstrate any of these seemingly admirable qualities, there's a big clue that you might be making zombies.
- Do you pride yourself on being "on top of" the projects or your direct reports? Do you have a solid grasp of the details of every project?
- Do you believe that you could perform most of the tasks of your direct reports, and potentially do a better job?
- Do you pride yourself on frequent communication with your employees? Does that communication include asking them for detailed status reports and updates?
- Do you believe that being a manager means that you have more knowledge and skills than your employees, and thus are better equipped to make decisions?
- Do you believe that you care about things (quality, deadlines, etc.) more than your employees?
Answering even a weak "yes" to any one of these might mean you either are--or are in danger of becoming--a micromanager. And once you go down that road, it's tough to return. Kathy Sierra - Death by Micromanagement: The Zombie Function
As I reviewed my old blog posts last week in preparation for writing the second volume of Machines Are the Easy Part; People Are the Hard Part, I ran across the clip above about being a micromanager.
Despite the fact that I have been "managing" people since my first job as a school librarian in 1979, I still have work to do. My basic law of successful supervision has always been: Hire people who don't need to be supervised. For the most part this has worked well. To make it work even better, though, I continue to find that I need to improve the clarity of my expectations. Tough sometimes when working in an area like technology in which deadlines, budgets, and buy-in are all rather, shall we say, flexible
Resisting the urge to micromanage also is more difficult in times when staffing is lean, expectations are high, and the expected rate of change is fast. The old observation "it all flows downhill" kicks in - when the boss/the board/the parents/the public/the teachers, etc. want something done - now.
Being a good manager is akin to being a good teacher - you empower, you help problem-solve, you provide resources, and you help light a path. "I am here to help you be successful" should be the mantra of every manager and teacher. (See The Role of the Plunger.)
As Keillor suggests in the quote below, competent management is probably an oxymoron. But I will keep working on it. For the sake of those whom I "manage."
A lot of us who would have been happier as mechanics went into management. With auto mechanics, there is such a thing as competence. With management? I don't think so. Garrison Keillor