On one Friday morning, as soon as I reached my workstation, I saw an envelope on my desk. The envelope just had my name written on it. It was not a time for a salary hike or promotion. There was no news of restructuring as well. So I was really curious to see what the letter was all about.
I opened the envelope and read the letter inside-
“Hi, Hope you are doing well and happy Friday..” I felt the freshness even in that letter as it was exactly on Friday morning. So it was meant for me for a Friday. Curiously, I started reading further-“I am really happy to see you being promoted as the Manager of your team. You really deserve it” That brought a gentle smile on my face as I thought it’s a letter to congratulate me. Without bothering who sent it I continued reading. It was a two-page letter. So I just wanted to read as fast as I could.
“I still remember when you joined two years back. It was your first time in a bigger organization like ours. I did feel that nervousness and discomfort in your behavior. I think you took at least a month to settle down in your role. You did not even mix up with your colleagues around you” My gentle smile had started fading as I was confused what this letter is about.
“I think the best thing you did was joining our ‘Social club”. You made nice friends there. I did observe your chemistry with Leila in parties organized by our social club. I was also surprised as I never saw Leila entertaining any other colleague so much in your team. Well done. You had started creating your influence. And do you also remember during our Christmas party, you were really drunk and you did some weird things? That was a shock to me. You should not have drunk that much. Anyways it was your decision.”
By now my face had started turning red. I was getting angry as I felt uncomfortable as someone had started commenting on my personal life.
“You and Leila broke up after that party. That was sad. You looked lethargic, lazy, and sad after that break-up. But your decision to take a month-long break to travel was a good decision. Do you remember Alex, who sat next to you at that time, he got a new job during that month. The finance department also went through a major transformation and CFO had to resign. Paul was blessed with a baby boy. Kevin bought a new car. Linda moved to our UK office. So many things happened while you were away. Isn’t it?”
I was really angry by now and really wanted to find and shout at the person who wrote the letter to stop peeping into others’ lives.
Reluctantly I continued reading with many such minute details about others’ lives in our office.
I finished the letter and leaned back in my chair taking deep breaths, trying to understand why people are interested in others’ lives and how annoying it is. The person who wrote this letter seemed like just peeping into other’s lives all the time. It was irritating.
While I was thinking about my experience with this letter, I realized how similar it is with Managers who keep peeping into team member’s work all the time. Employees spend the majority of time in office. Many managers keep peeping into their work throughout the day. Just like continuously peeping into someone’s life is annoying, peeping into the team’s work throughout the day is equally undesirable. That’s what exactly is called Micromanagement.
Managers come up with different ways to Micromanage team members. A daily worksheet is one of the obvious examples of Micromanagement. There are managers who even believe in a surprise visit to the team member’s workstations to exercise micromanagement and to check what team members are doing by encroaching their privacy. Daily stand-ups in agile environment are meant to share and discuss the completed work with the rest of the teams so that they are aware of the progress and can address the roadblocks. Many managers use these stand-ups to exercise the control over teams defeating the objectives of stand-ups.
Micromanagement comes with many disadvantages like disgruntled employees, low productivity, high attrition, internal politics, etc. impacting the efficiency of the team.
There are many effective ways to avoid micromanagement and avoid being a bad leader such as-
- Frequent reviews (if that’s what the work demands) with clear objectives
- Effective feedback mechanism
- Informal catch-ups to understand the problems faced by team members
- Clear goals and objectives
- Frequent Reward and recognition
Understanding the difference between managing the team and micromanaging the team, itself will make you a good manager.
Ravindra Puri is a Key Note Speaker, Corporate Training in Yogic Practices, and the Author of Business Management Book – The Book of a Corporate Yogi.
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