“When are you travelling next?” asked my wife as I had not traveled for some time contrary to my usual schedule. I told her that I had no such plans till the following week and asked her why she seemed keen to be “rid” of me!
She remarked, ”you are getting on my nerves these days with your endless line of questioning and remarks for everything that I do – from the types of workout I do at the gym; lack of protein in our daughters’ breakfast; to why I buy vegetables from the Big Bazaar rather than the street vendor! I mean, I do these daily with freedom and the house runs well. However, for the past 3 weeks, I have become conscious of my ability to actually manage the household with confidence!”
I was taken aback! I’m a frequent traveler, most of the time on work. What happened to the “I miss you” calls which I used to receive every second day when I was abroad? But her complaint sounded familiar to me.
Many moons ago when I used to lead a sales team, I had an expectation that everybody turned up at 9am in the morning. I used to get upset if one of my direct reports did not show up on time. There was a time when I went to the extent of sending an SMS the next morning to the said individual asking her to be on time. I had a highly successful team who were ‘talked about’ in the organisation. But still I was keen to see all customer appointments for the week written on the board. My explanation was that if my schedule allowed, I would join them. One of them once told me, “Kamal, I’m not sure if you are joining us for client meetings to support or to be a watchdog!”
At different stages in life, I have either micromanaged my team or have been the victim of micro management. I always believed when we are young managers or new in a role, we tend to get into the minutest of detail. I have also seen leaders having only a singular management style – micromanagement!
But I never learnt. And almost like it was a vengeance, I continued to inflict the same on others. When I led a branch, I insisted that all my team leads email their “key deliverables or KPIs” to me at the end of each day. Not surprising, I went home at 9pm daily as I made it a routine to wait for the report and send off terse emails to shortfallings before I left for home. My take was that my team will see my feedback first thing in the morning which will allow them to correct their delivery quotient the following day. Little did I realize that I was, in reality, demotivating 20 odd of my staff every morning! The results did not change in spite of activities increase as people were pumping activities without quality. By micromanaging, I don’t think I brought about the change!
I think in the corporate world micromanaging is also an act to create pressure. Many of us may not be just doing it to manage our people but create that additional stress to get things done. We miss the ‘insight’ that the best performances happen when we engage with our people rather than intimidate them by micro managing.