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Micro-Managing Undermines Senior Staff

Posted by Ken Glickman

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Category : Coaching

Q: As President of a service-oriented company, I have always had a problem with keeping my senior management team. The average vice president only stays for about two years, and then leaves for another company. Recently, I had my HR director perform exit interviews and these leaders say that I am a micro-manager, something I am not aware of. How do I correct this management problem?

A. People become presidents and CEOs of companies because they pay close attention to detail and take a lot of pride in making sure the end product is what they planned it would be.

However as the company grows, the president can’t and shouldn’t examine ever detail of every project. Many presidents find themselves working eighty-hour weeks, making sure that everything is perfect.

By doing that, not only is the president working himself to death, but also she is not developing or demonstrating trust in his/her staff.

The senior leadership team wants to be challenged and given a free hand to manage projects and make major decisions on its own. Some presidents have a difficult time handing over that power because the final product may not be “perfect”. When they do reluctantly hand off projects, they double-check each and every decision the manager makes.

This is called micro-management and it drives managers and the leadership staff crazy. They feel like children who cannot be trusted. They feel like high-priced “go-fors.”

For perfectionist presidents, it is often painful to hand off power to other people. They feel that the risk of not having the result be exactly as they would have it is too big to take.

In reality, NOT handing off important responsibly to talented staff members can have a devastating effect on the company. Managers will not be nurtured, new ideas will not be developed, and the company will be in a constant state of flux as it searches to replace managers that leave.

Take it slow, but gradually hand off major projects to senior leaders. It’ll only hurt for a little while. Don’t second-guess their decisions and even allow them to fail, if that happens. Faster than you think, the group will develop into a strong team of professionals who will thrive with the new, challenging work. You’ll be happier, they’ll stick around and the company will grow.

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