Realistic Perspectives

A concentration of material and thoughts focused around leadership, values, ethics, efficiency and effectiveness

Learning to let go

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Any leader would have felt the uncontrollable urge to micromanage at some point in their careers, for some this urge would border on the edge of being an addiction. Reasons given my many for micromanaging range from the subordinate not being ready to be delegated work, having an “I can get it done faster and better” mentality and even not trusting your direct reports.

However, we must all face the bitter truth about micromanaging at some point in time. Micromanaging drives good people away, demotivates people, makes them feel unappreciated, causes them to lose faith in themselves, makes it impossible to hold people responsible for their goals/objectives/job roles, causes you as a leader to be distracted and thereby unable to focus on your job and as a result is overall bad news for a company.

Let me paint a scenario for you, a Customer Service Representative named Sandy working at a service counter is faced with a customer complaint. Sandy is new but has been trained well on how to manage such a situation, however this is Sandy’s first time managing such a situation in real life. Sandy’s supervisor Tim who has a insatiable urge to micromanage feels that Sandy cannot handle this situation and even before there is an escalation from the customer, Tim asks Sandy to step aside and takes over the situation. You may think that Tim did the right thing and avoided a customer complaint from becoming a major issue. However, Sandy lost the opportunity to manage a real life customer complaint whilst Tim the supervisor was present and as a result lost confidence in herself. The next customer complaint Sandy receives is when Tim is on leave and predictably she was not able to effectively handle the complaint which caused an escalation up to the department head level since Tim was not around to diffuse the situation.

Of course there are situations where people may not be suitable to handle situations such as the aforementioned, the solution for this is not to step in and do their job for them but rather to ensure they are ready for the said situation through grooming them. One of the basic tools that can be used for this is the The Situational Leadership Model which was discussed in details in the blog post Review and summary : The One Minute Manager.

Grooming, enabling and trusting direct reports to do their job not only helps them feel a sense of satisfaction and pride in the work they do, but it also helps the manager to do what they are supposed to be doing (i.e. managing or leading) in a more effective manner without stressing themselves unnecessarily over a task they are accountable but not responsible for (there is a big difference between being accountable and responsible and this is explained quite well in the blog post Accountability vs. Responsibility?).

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Written by Talal Cassim

April 12, 2017 at 11:34 pm

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