I recently I overheard a man complaining to his business partner about his administrative assistant.
“She just does not do the things that she is supposed to do! And then, I find her leaving early. I swear that I have told her 100 times to put our marketing packets together, and they are still not finished,” he said frustrated. “What do I do?”
His business partner said “Well, we need to set up a plan for her. We need to say to her that she needs to complete 3 packets a day every day next week.”
“While I am writing this plan for her, I might as well write down everything that she is not doing,” he sighed. “I have never thought of myself as a micro manager.”
For the next hour, these two gentlemen wrote down a schedule for the administrator. It included a lunch break and goals for exactly what they wanted her to do… basically a plan for how he would continue to micro manage her.
Why do we become micro managers? Rarely do I meet managers who LOVE to micro manage; in fact, most of them hate it. However, they do find it necessary at times to keep people on track.
If you find yourself micro managing your employees, examine why this change has occurred. Here are a few reasons:
In any case, your job is to have a conversation with the employee and create an environment of accountability, not micro management. Make sure that the tasks and duties are agreed upon and written down. Realize that micro management is a short term solution to a long term problem. Use it wisely and sparingly.
Your superstar employee is out pregnant. An amazing employee’s father is dying of cancer. Your right hand man injured himself in a Rugby game. For these employees, you will do whatever it takes to help them get back up and running. You will bend over backwards to accomplish whatever is needed to help them because you know that the effort is appreciated and will be reciprocated.
Then, you have that one employee who always spends their accrued vacation hours before they have really earned them. When they call in sick, you grit your teeth and seethe. Life happens, yet you are bothered.
The question is why do some situations bother you with some employees and not with others?
The big difference is that your rockstar employee will have a contingency plan in place so that work gets done in spite of life interruptions. They will work from home when their child is sick, or they will make plans to cover their job if they need to suddenly leave town. It isn’t their job to do that, but they do it anyway as a way to contribute to the team and the core values of the company. That extra little something that they do to make your life easier is why you will work hard to make them happy. Those who don’t aren’t really team members.
Like most consultants that I know, my office is in various coffee shops along the Front Range of Colorado. As a result, I hear lots of different conversations. Last week, I was sitting next to two women in one of my favorite office locations. They were having a heated discussion about Woman #1’s abrupt departure from Woman #2’s company. The conversation went something like this:
Employee: “I told you why I was frustrated!”
Boss: “But I thought we fixed the scheduling problem. You didn’t tell me about the other issues. I can’t fix it if I don’t know about it!”
Employee: “How can you not know about it? You are the boss!”
The “boss” is ultimately responsible for everything that happens within her company. One important responsibility is to ensure a healthy work environment for her employees. In this scenario, or any scenario for that matter, blaming her employee for lack of communication does not resolve the issue. I find most often that employees attempt to discuss problems in a very subtle way. They often feel hesitant to make complaints because they are really unsure of how receptive said boss will be. To help you spark the conversation with your employees, look for the signs that an employee is thinking about leaving:
If you don’t want to be caught unaware, then listen and pay attention to your staff. They will tell you when they are becoming unsatisfied.