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Micromanagement: The Death of Passion and Innovation

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Do you enjoy being micromanaged? I didn’t think you would answer yes to that question. I have worked many jobs and in my current job I see the same issue that I see time and time again. I see employees that are burnt out, passionless, repeating the same things that were done years ago and people who are afraid to voice and carry out new ideas. The question still remains why is this? Why do people have to find and cultivate side jobs? Why do you write for infobarrel? Why do so many people seek passive income? What is it about our jobs that are making us look for an escape? My only answer is Micromanagement—you are not being given the opportunity to be creative, innovative and become passionate about your work. Would you agree?

 If I could write an instruction manual for all the managers and leaders of the world it would look something like this:

 Surprise! Your Employees Have a Brain

 Why not let them use it? Your employees do not need to be spoon-fed every step of the way to do their jobs. Provide the necessary foundation and excellent training from the outset and then allow your employees to follow through. Who wants to be stifled and experience performance anxiety? Not I, do you? Let your employees breath and treat them like they have a brain, they might just start performing like they do…surprise, surprise.

 Employees are not children; therefore a constant physical or assumed presence is not necessary. Provide the instruction and then leave. There is nothing more demeaning than being given an instructive by your manager and they then “hang around” to make sure you do the job right. Really! Is this necessary? If you don’t trust that your employee will do the job then why did you hire them? It’s obvious that you thought they were right for the position when you accepted them into your company; now allow them to demonstrate that.

 Encourage Failure and Reward Success

 Encourage failure? Are you out of your mind! No I am completely sane thank you, at least for now. Why do I say encourage failure? Most employees are afraid to fail and will therefore never take the chance to be innovative. If you want employees to simply regurgitate and do exactly as you say without being innovative then let them fear failure like the plague, it’s a guaranteed road to mediocrity though. If mediocrity is what you are looking for in your company then please continue this trend; if however you seek excellence then read on.

 At the outset let your employees know it’s okay to fail as long as they are working towards trying out new ideas. Let them know that you will still be in support of them even if they fail. I don’t encourage failure on simple task that your employees are expected to know, that is not what I am referring to here. Rather, I am talking about allowing your employees to be creative and innovative—encourage them to come up with new ways of doing things. If for some reason they fail don’t demoralize them and make them feel worthless, it will only guarantee that they will never try to be innovative again.  If they do fail, it may be more beneficial to debrief with your employee—have them revisit the project and analyze it:

  • What is the root of the failure?
  • What did I learn from the experience?
  • What can I do differently?
  • Even though the project as a whole failed, what part of the project was a success and how can I duplicate that success?

 If your employee is successful and their innovative idea works out as planned, this is the time to celebrate. Don’t treat their success as something mundane and trivial but provide positive reinforcement in the form of a bonus, verbal praise, public recognition, promotion and the like. But the greatest reward of all will possibly be allowing the employee to continue to implement and oversee their project, have them “tweak it,” watch it grow and snowball into something bigger and better. 

 Lastly, encourage data collection, namely baseline data. How do you know if your employee is successful? There are many other variables at play that may spark success. Furthermore, how can you duplicate success or avoid repeating failed projects if you are not certain of the variables that caused it? Data collection is essential to being intelligently informed.

 Have a Vision and Verbalize It

 Too many times I have started a new job and the first thing they do is seat me in a hot room with no windows, in the hardest chair possible, and dump a ten pound binder in front of me requesting that I read it cover to cover.  The binder usually covers things like policies and procedures, mission statement, vision statement and the boring list goes on and one and…you get the point.  Why hasn’t anyone come up with a more innovative way to get this information across…anyway I digress.

 Have a vision and share your story. Black words on white paper are cold and there is no human connection or heart behind where the words originated. It would be more beneficial for managers and leaders to gather their employees together and verbally share their vision and passion for the company. Why not share the story of how the company came together and how it got to where it is now, it would offer more context for the present vision and mission statement. The exchange is more human and your employees can contextualize the information and are able to witness, firsthand, your passion for the project.  

 Expect Excellence and Verbalize It

 There are a ton of studies that prove that having high expectations creates high levels of output. In other words, if you expect your employees to produce excellence they will produce excellence. Furthermore, if you hired the right people that are in line with your vision and passion they will already come intrinsically motivated to follow through. Hence, it is very important as a manager or leader to verbalize your expectations of excellence and a high caliber of work. However, take that expectation to the next level and let your employees know that you are certain you have hired that right people that will have no problem with living up to what you expect.

 In the above scenario you have accomplished two things; firstly, you have verbalized that you expect nothing other than excellence (Keep in mind however, as noted earlier, that you are okay if they fail as long as they are aiming to be innovative,); secondly, you have recognized their intelligence and ability in following through.

 Is micromanagement necessary? Possibly, it is hard to say. I do know however that if you want to encourage creativity, innovation, passion and a high caliber of excellence in your employees, micromanagement is not the way to go. Rather, treat your employees like they have a brain, encourage failure and reward success, have a vision and verbalize it, expect excellence and verbalize it.  


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