This post stems from a one-on-one conversation I recently had with a team member. For the record, this was approved by the TM prior to publishing this post.
Holding people and teams accountable is really hard. Asking for updates, emphasizing deadlines, and pushing teams/people to accomplish goals can sometimes make you feel like you are playing the “bad cop.” This can be uncomfortable, especially if you don’t do it often.
A team member who is leading one of our projects mentioned they were feeling uncomfortable asking people about task updates because they felt like they were micromanaging.
Quickly, per Wikipedia, micromanagement is “a management style whereby a manager closely observes and/or controls the work of his/her subordinates or employees.”
First, this post is not arguing for or against micromanagement. A micromanagement style may be needed in certain situations. In this scenario, it seemed like there could be an opportunity to try something that isn’t as micromanagement oriented, an approach that would help the team member feel comfortable and provide the team member with more tools for their tool belt.
How to avoid micromanagement:
- Create a vision/end goal in mind and if possible, have everyone on the team help add input to this process.
- If everyone knows where we are going, then it reduces the need to constantly check in to make sure they are doing the right things. This doesn’t mean you set it and forget it (see next item).
- Check-ins are still necessary, so make it natural.
- In technology, one way we do this is via stand up.
- Another suggestion is to have smaller more digestible visions/goals per build, per week, or per day that align to the larger vision.
- It may be helpful to ask “Does anyone have any roadblocks and how can I help?” rather than asking ‘where are they at with their task.’
- By phrasing the question with an assistance first approach rather than looking over someone’s shoulder approach, it demonstrates to team members that we are all in this together trying to achieve the same vision/end goal.