Looking over the shoulder
(Characters described in this article are not real – there would be people like them in the real world but the descriptors used here are not associated with any person I know bearing that name.)
James is irritated. He is out in the market, making a planned visit. No! That is not the cause of his irritation. It is the fifth client call he is making in the day and his Business Head, Manoj, has been tagging along with him all day. Now, that is the reason for his annoyance.
Manoj was supportive and a good Supervisor Officer in many ways, but for one major flaw. He micro – managed! He had to verify and cross-check everything. The only relief for the team – members was that they were seven in number and it took a while before it was any one person’s turn again. “Torture” was the codename used by James and his colleagues for this day of joint-visits.
James and his friends were experienced hands and at most times they were on top of the job – Manoj supported their efforts by providing the necessary inputs, be it budgets or getting the support needed from their Head Office. James and his colleagues did not mind Manoj involvement in the planning and review processes. They also knew that Manoj could contribute in major deals and in meetings with Senior Officials and were happy to taking him along on such occasions. It was only when Manoj took an active role in every little activity that it became an irritation.
These are a few of the ways managers like Manoj can disrupt their team’s peace-of-mind:
- He would visit a customer and ask questions to cross-check the information shared by the team-member during the review conducted back at the office, every tiny detail. This would be repeated all day.
- He had to spend the day at the venue where a Sales Executive was conducting a promotional activity– not just to witness the proceedings but to get involved in the nity-gritties.
- He would ask a team – member to provide the list of calls planned for the day and then ask whom they proposed to meet and what was to be discussed during the visit.
How many coffee breaks did you take today? How much time was spent to reach the customer’s office? You get the picture.
Why do Managers micro-manage?
The main reason for this is lack of trust. Many managers are not comfortable leaving the task to a junior officer because they think the person is not capable of doing the job. These managers believe that only they have the experience and skill to do it competently. They worry that things can go wrong when they are not involved.
They are also afraid of losing control; what if the team-members start doing things on their own and don’t come to him for support? Won’t he then become redundant? And what if the team-member messes it up and he is not able to find out?
Some managers wish to stay in the familiar territory they used to be in – which is Operations. Their micro-management is a ploy to stay in touch with what they enjoyed previously. It would be best for such managers to add a component of field work to their daily routine and that should be done alone instead of disturbing a junior official.
Well, managers definitely need to know what their team-members are doing:
- they need to make field visits with each member of the team,
- visit the venue where promotional activities are being conducted,
- even check who they are visiting and what questions are being asked.
But, should that be done for every call and every activity? Won’t that demoralize his team?
Manoj would have very experienced and committed team-members who need not be guided every step of the way – and by close-managing he not only loses respect, but causes them a lot of agony. If there is a low- performer or new recruit some hand-holding and close monitoring would be acceptable – but if he is smart even that task could be delegated to a senior hand in his team.
One can understand James’ agony. Looking over a team-member’s shoulder too often can only make the person nervous and irritated.
Managers like Manoj need to learn to trust people and relax some more. They need to let go and permit the team to do things their way – if things go out of control they can cut in anytime and get the situation back on track. A bit of Coaching would be useful to get them rid of this habit.
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