Stopping micro-management

Lately I tried micro management, and it was not a major success.

I experience some flaws in a colleagues work, mistake and oversights, on matters wich concerned my unit. I asked around to find out if that was common in his work for other teams and it appears that it was. The lad was overworked, overstressed and in a few weeks from his holidays. Everyone was hoping of a quick recovery after this break. I then chose to micromanage him until the break. This entailed:

  • Checking various times a day that he has done what he promised, to guarantee on time delivery,
  • Booking time slot reminder in his diary for missions he was supposed to execute with my team, to guarantee fulfillments,
  • Reading the correspondance he sent in my teams name, to ensure clarity and exactness,
  • Pulling him off any non priority projects, to release some pressure on his shoulder;

Despite my efforts, I missed a major misunderstanding of my colleague, leading to larger problem that the client did not appreciate. We could resolve the problem before anything major occurred. I had the feeling I wasted a lot of time in supervising to avoid the unavoidable. I face criticisms despite my every efforts which had a taste of injustice but they were actually right in a sense.

I was completely mislead – as we sat in the same briefing and received the same next steps – to believe we both understood the outcome. Micromanaging made me believe I was on top of things, where I was not as the problem was already there before I started. No one can rewrite the past, so i took on the lesson and make sure I understand the most important parameters before managing the execution.

Now, I am working on my method, involving a step by step approach :

  • Preparation first to ensure deep understanding,
  • Assessing the knowledge necessary to execute the task,
  • Brief the team to get them to comprehend the whole picture,
  • Assign an owner to deepen
  • Make sure the team has the elements to move forwards owing their mission,
  • Be present for the team to help with decisions when experience is needed
  • Support workload to guarantee timely delivery.

Changing is hard, even for an adaptable person. I am keen on efficiency and I do hope people will crave understanding which would force me into explaining every single details, but they don’t always have this level of natural engagement. I need to ground myself to be meticulously sharing details and cues for my team to feed on. At the same time I am afraid of information overload which could lead them to more confusion, hence my habit of not giving too much at a time.

I would love to have your experience on how you manage the project setting in a complex environment with limited ressources, I am sure some around have useful tricks and solutions which would apply to all. Do not hesitate to share.

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