Special Secrets to Micro-Managing Employee Performance

By Martin Haworth
Martin Haworth

In general, micro-management is frowned upon in the management sphere. Yet there are occasions when by getting into the small stuff, there are benefits to managers and their people too.

The traditional view of micro-management is where a manager is so neurotic about the delivery of results that he or she cannot leave individuals to their own devices.

Micro-managers sabotage success simply because they are so close to what their people do that they stifle performance, thereby making the achievements of the desired results even more unlikely.

performance managing

By failing to give responsibility to each individual to deliver what's required, micro-managers very nearly do their job for them. This can be very demanding for the manager, who has to keep many more plates spinning than their role allows for, leading to not only exhaustion, but also to actual underperformance as they spread themselves too thinly to ensure quality outputs.

Employees find this sort of micro-management behavior incredibly frustrating. They feel watched, which diminishes their confidence. They feel that they are not trusted, so they tend to play safe and take few risks. They also find that they get nervous too, when they expect their boss to pop up at any moment to interfere and give them the guidance they clearly don't need.

So micro-management is regarded by employees as a bad thing.
Smart managers micro-manage differently.

By seeking to interact with their people much less directly, they can understand the different motivators that every individual needs specially personalised to them. Getting to know their people, these particularly effective managers not only get to know what's going on, they build strong, supportive and focused relationships that deliver.

Micro-managing relationships in this way, means that instead of getting close to the activities their people as tasked to deliver, they simply get close to the people themselves.

And it's a set of skills that are easy to learn. Instead of being clever and knowing what's best in the approach to tasks, savvy managers ask their people easy question, let them talk - and then listen, a lot. They let their people feel they are the success, because when employees talk, these exceptional managers recognise that what works is simply listening to them with focused attention and then asking them some more.

Micro-managing relationships is so much more valuable than micro-managing tasks. The accountability for team success clearly lies with a manager. Responsibility for delivering the component tasks that make up the big-picture result lies with individuals. Then each is doing what their individual roles requires.

Creating the sort of relationships that enable this dynamic and productive interaction is what defines the very best of management behaviors and attitudes.

Employees feel valued, heard, capable and confident and go on to contribute more; be pro-active; show their creativity; take on more. Managers make time for their people and, with clear expectations of each and every one of their people defined, step back from getting in the way.

Micromanaging relationships works very effectively indeed. A long way from micro-managing tasks, for which it's much better to leave to the valuable resource of the employees they lead.