Complacency and micromanagement seem to be two diametrically opposed ideas. Yet complacency leads to micromanagement. And micromanagement causes team complacency. They feed off of one another and yet they are mortal enemies.
So why do so many well-meaning leaders create these battles between themselves and their teams? From my experience, it's because that's how they were taught to lead. They were taught to believe that in order to lead others, you need to know your team members' jobs and to be able to do their jobs as well or better than they can. Otherwise how can you possibly lead them? These well-meaning leaders have also been taught that if your team members aren't getting the work done sufficiently, you better jump in and do the work yourself. Every one of those ideas is great on the surface. However, what are their long-term impacts on team productivity and morale, team and individual problem-solving skills, innovation, etc? Negative, negative, negative.
There are numerous issues to address with all of the whys and hows of micromanaging leaders, but in its most basic form, micromanaging leaders micromanage because they don't trust the judgment or work of their team members. The micromanaging leader may know this is true, but the leader doesn't make the connection that that lack of trust is a huge red light that indicates a staff change, staff training, or some other staff action is needed. Simply jumping in and taking over for employees you don't really trust to do the work isn't an acceptable leadership action. Addressing that lack of trust is. Why don't you trust your employees' judgment or abilities? What would they need to demonstrate to gain your trust? What would they need to do - specifically - over the next 3, 6, or 9 months to start to earn your trust? Be specific in outlining what each team member would need to do to gradually earn your trust.
If you don't know what you would specifically need each team member to do to allow you to slowly trust their abilities, you're by default encouraging them to remain dependent upon you to micromanage them. You're encouraging their complacency. Why should they bother to solve their own problems? You'll solve their problems for them. Why should they innovate or think of continuous improvement initiatives? You'll figure those out for them. Why should they learn anything new to move themselves or the organization forward? You do that.
So if you're tired of doing everything for your team members, stop. If you're frustrated because of your team's complacency, do something about it. Face the truth about your leadership style. Leaders lead. Leaders leverage the skills of others to move the organization forward. Leaders support the development of others to better themselves and the organization. Leaders realize it's about the team and their ever-growing skills; it's not about the leader and her ability to do and be all. Leaders don't create battles between themselves and their own team members. Leaders don't create complacency.
Copyright MMX - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.