May 8, 2003
I would just like to say a little something on micromanagment. It's a great way to reduce head count. Because if you do it enough, people will quit, only they won't quit on good terms.
It's a matter of trust, really.
When you micromanage someone, you're telling them: "My way is the only acceptable way. I do not trust your experience, skills, or knowledge. So, I will make sure that you have no room to think, innovate, make mistakes, or use initiative."
This may make you feel in control, but what happens is that you end up having to do everything yourself, because no one other than you will ever do everything exactly your way. They can't. They're not you. They're always going to deviate somewhat. So, a micromanager will come down on them even harder. At that point, they're either looking for a new job, or, they're going to resign themselves to the fact that what they really are is an extra pair of hands, and only do what they are told, when they are told. Nothing more.
So, you go from having a valuable, experienced, capable employee to a clock-watching drone. Your workload of course goes up, because drones take a lot more work to manage than thinking employees. You end up having to spoon feed them every part of the assignment, and getting status reports, or results is like pulling teeth.
But then, when you micromanage, that's what you want, and that's what you get. So congratulations, you've achieved your goals.
If there is a bigger sign that a manager has no clue as to how to be a manager, I don't know what it is. Micromanaging is simply insecurity translated into a lack of trust in anyone other than the manager. It's death to an organization, because it means that whatever that manager is in charge of is quite literally going to be non-functional without that person there all the time. But then, most management training is a joke.
No, let me reiterate that:
Most civilian management training is a joke.
It all deals with business cases, and processes, and project management, and legalities. It also makes the fatal mistake of avoiding leadership as though it's a dirty word. But that is what being a manager is about. Leadership.
Face it, resources are easy. You have X amount, and you have to make sure they are used in an efficient manner. But a thing isn't what finishes projects on time, or works overtime to fix a dead network. A computer isn't going to realize that there's a different, and potentially better way to get work done. A switch isn't going to have an 'aha' moment. Resources don't do much of anything by themselves. People do.
Coincidentally, people get treated like dirt the most often in our modern world.
Which is ridiculously funny when you read the articles bemoaning the lack of company loyalty. Well, no kidding. You treat your people like dirt, you cast them aside at the first chance, and you wonder why they leave at the first offer letter.
Keeping employees isn't a matter of resource allocation. It's a matter of Leadership. Leadership is about being the example. Because whether you understand leadership or not, you're going to be the example for your people. You don't give them the freedom to make a mistake? They won't try. You insist on micromanaging them? There went their initiative. You give them a nice handjob one day, and crap all over them the next? There goes trust.
I know that being a manager is hard. I've been one too many times to not know that in my bones. In some ways, it's harder than doing the work. Because now, you are not the master of your own fate. The people under you are. The people doing the work that you used to are going to determine your fate. That can be frightening. But the answer isn't going to be to control everything they do, and dictate their every action. That's going to make your life harder, and screw you over in the end.
You have to let go and let these people do their work. Your job is as a guide, and a protector. You have to make sure your people know what needs to get done, and any hard limitations. You have to make sure they have the resources to get their jobs done. You have to make sure that they know if they run into a problem, that you're going to do your part to help them. You have to protect them from external politics as much as possible, so they aren't worried about covering their asses. That's your job. You have to cover your people. That's part of being a leader.
Unfortunately, no one wants to be a leader. It's considered crude, not in touch with modern theory, to militaristic. Which is a problem, because as I said earlier, when you're in charge, you're a leader. You don't have a choice about that.
You only have a choice about what kind of leader you're going to be.
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