Ep.#21: Micro-Management & Abdication Management

Innovation Made Easy Podcast
Innovation Made Easy Podcast
Ep.#21: Micro-Management & Abdication Management

What is micromanagement and what is under-management (or even called abdication management)?

  1. Micromanagement is too much direction and feedback for a person about the task at a specific time. 
  2. Abdication managers know very little about what their direct reports are working on and defend their approach but proudly using words like trust, autonomy and empowerment.

Finding the right balance is not that obvious.

Data shows that, for every micromanager, most organisations have dozens of under-managers and the fear of being labelled as micro-manager has something to do with it. In addition, your lack of planning and intentionalily is preventing you to show up as the manager that offers

  • The right level of presence,
  • high-quality dialogues,
  • guidance,
  • giving direction,
  • support, and
  • coaching.

I have been there too, so this is why this topic is so close to my heart!

It is important to be aware of the fact that abdication management can be very costly for organisations.

In fact, it can result in lack of guidance, delays in recognising problems, stalled professional development of key people, and anxiety among employees.

So if we want to be more intentional about how we show up for our people, let’s put our curiosity hat on, take of judgement hat and explore.

What are the most effective managers doing differently and/or what did you do differently when you were most effective as a manager?

There is no need to make it complicated. In fact, it would be enough to go back to the basics of people management.

  • Get in the habit of managing people every day;
  • Take it one person at a time; in the one2one is where the power is.
  • Learn to talk like a coach (go to Ep.#13 for more on this topic)
  • Be clear on expectations every step of the way.
  • Track performance every step of the way.
  • Solve small problems before they turn into big problems.
  • And reward people when they go the extra mile.

Now: simple does not mean that it is easy ! and discipline and consistency will be the key factors.

On the other extreme of the pendulum we then have micromanagement, which is about providing too much direction and feedback for the specific employee on a specific task in a specific time frame.

The only way to know how much direction and feedback this person needs with the task at this time is through a regular dialogue with this person, which goes back to point 1 of the basics listed above.

So the way to calibrate is precisely start talking about the work with your employee, until you are engaged in a regular ongoing structured dialogue about his or her tasks, responsibilities and projects.

You want to empower your people to do the best job they can: it is about setting them up for success. Real empowerment is about making sure your people know exactly what’s expected of them,

  • giving them the resources they need,
  • spelling it out,
  • breaking it down so that they know exactly how to succeed.

Real empowerment takes hard work on the part of the manager. Real empowerment is the art of delegation. It’s spelling out an area of responsibility for someone else, making clear all the guidelines and parameters, establishing good timelines, and following up regularly. That’s how you properly delegate.

And because you can only find the right balance in the long term, where your people know what to expect from you and you are consistently providing feedback and rewarding success.

So, on which side of the pendulum do you find yourself today leaning more towards: micro-management or under-management?

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