“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs.
There are some events that stay with you for a lifetime. I will never forget the story a former coworker shared with me about how the company gets rid of unwanted employees without any effort. This diabolical method is reserved for employees high up on the food chain with too much power and influence for termination. The company would simply promote them. Now when my former coworker said this, I’m thinking to myself “isn’t that a good thing?” My former coworker paused as if that question was all over my face, and continued describing what happens. The employee is promoted and given a desk in plain sight of all the other employees on that floor. The employee has no one under them to manage, and it is not clear who is their direct supervisor. The employee is given tasks that do not need any critical thinking, or any real effort. The employee finishes the task and waits for further instructions on what to do next. Now this would seem an ideal situation for most, but no one is content being a robot waiting for their next instructions. Eventually you will seek out a work environment where you have a real purpose, and can passionately express independent thought.
“In business management, micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes or controls the work of subordinates or employees.”
People Are Led, Not Managed
Leaders empower their team by giving them authority to confidently make decisions to reach a common goal. This creates an atmosphere where employees are appreciated and respected. The employee in turn becomes more engaged and productive. When people are managed, it destroys their confidence. Instead of attempting to resolve a matter through critical thinking, the employee is conditioned to reach out to management for guidance on matters that can easily be resolved by the employee. Lack of confidence is harmful to performance, lack of performance creates a frustrated employee who is ready to quit.
Manage Policy and Training, not People
A truly effective training course is based on the policies of the organization, and how they are applied properly by the employees consistently throughout their career. Instructors should expect trainees to be proficient in executing these policies on the front-lines, daily, by the end of the course. Here are some fundamental building blocks that should be included in training:
- Clear roles and responsibilities
- Promote critical thinking and develop superior troubleshooting skills
- Emphasize that new ideas for improvement of policies/training are welcome
Under New Management
Once micromanagement has taken root, it’s a hard road back to a healthy environment. There are some crucial steps that need to be taken by management and subordinates. Subordinates must convince management to accept their independence, by confidently resolving issues of the client instead of waiting for management to do all their thinking. Subordinates must be fearless and not be afraid to make mistakes, mistakes happen to all of us and help us to learn. The difference between an average employee and extraordinary employee is how we correct those mistakes. Management must create an atmosphere where employees don’t feel like, “no matter what I do, it won’t be good enough.” Management must trust their team and make room for them to succeed by getting out-of-the-way. Employees must be allowed to make decisions, and live with the consequences of those decisions, that causes people to grow and improve.
Eventually management will embrace the joy that comes from trusting their team and having more time to focus on projects that need their undivided attention. Employees will realize their value and power in the organization and be inspired to be the next generation of management.