A common reason for why an employee leaves a role is the managing style of leaders. Have you ever heard an employee say “I prefer to be micro-managed”? Of course not, but micro-management is an issue that remains in many organisations and teams, and now it is moving online due to the increase in individuals working remotely. This article outlines the tell-tale signs of a virtual micro-manager and provides guidance on how to become a virtual macro-manager.
BUT FIRST, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MICRO-MANAGER AND MACRO-MANAGER?
It’s quite simple. A micro-manager is excessive in their supervision of team members, often controlling when it comes to the freedom of decision-making and critical of employee’s actions. A macro-manager takes a more hands-off approach, guiding employees when they need it but allowing them the autonomy to problem solve and make decisions.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU ARE A VIRTUAL MICRO-MANAGER
If you experience any of the below, you probably are a virtual micro-manager – but not to worry, we provide tips on how to avoid virtual micro-management later in this article. Remember to be honest with yourself when considering the following points.
1) You feel that you are involved in the details of all ongoing projects, that your input is always needed and that you cannot find the time to strategise – your team don’t tend to make decisions and need you to step in, preventing you from completing your own work.
2) You are copied on every email – it is overwhelming when you open your inbox every morning as there could be hundreds of emails waiting for you, most of which you do not have time during the day to read.
3) You have multiple video calls with your team a day – you require constant contact for updates on projects and tasks and what each team member is doing that day.
4) Your team members are regularly contacting you through different channels – whether it’s through Microsoft Teams, Zoom, email, phone, Skype or What’s App, your team are in constant contact asking for your input or opinion on projects and tasks.
5) Your team update you if they are away from their desk – it is if a team member is going to be offline for a few hours, but not if they are telling you when they are taking lunch or going for a walk, or even finishing 15 minutes early on a Friday.
6) If you can’t get through to a team member on one channel, you use multiple other channels straight away – if a team member does not answer their phone, you try email, video conferencing or instant messaging, maybe even texting them.
7) You ask your team to document their workload – team members complete an excel sheet every week to list exactly what they are doing every day.
8) Your voice is the only one heard on a call – you lead all meetings and other team members do not get involved or contribute their thoughts or opinions.
9) You use monitoring software to track your team’s activity – you have software installed on the devices of your team members so that you know exactly what they are doing while remote working.
HOW TO AVOID BEING A VIRTUAL MICRO-MANAGER
If some of the above points resonate with you, don’t panic. In recent months, many managers have found themselves suddenly having to remote manage their teams – a completely new concept for some. The below tips will help you to move from being a virtual micro-manager to a virtual macro-manager.
1) Give the brief and let them own it – give your team all the details for a new project including a deadline through email or on a video call and let them create a strategy and report back, without telling them what to do or asking for regular updates.
2) Schedule regular, fixed meetings – whether this is a daily check-in call every morning or a virtual team meeting every week, set a fixed time to discuss ongoing projects for which team members can prepare. This will reduce the need for cold calling during the day, allowing employees avail of independent time to complete projects and daily tasks.
3) Provide positive, clear, useful feedback – do not criticise team members’ work, comment on what works well and bring their attention to the areas that need further deliberation, providing useful suggestions that will help the individual.
4) Encourage engagement at meetings – ask your employees for their opinions and feedback on a project, or allow them present an idea or the results of a campaign.
5) Feed communication through senior individuals – if you oversee individuals in senior associate or manager roles, share information with them and allow them to manage the delegation of tasks amongst junior team members.
6) Ease off the virtual communication – consider whether you can wait until a team meeting to ask an employee a question, or if you don’t get a reply, trust that the individual will get back to you when they can.
7) Do not use tracking software – trust that your team are being productive and working the hours they are contracted to do.
8) Do not ask your team to document their workload – as per above, trust your team are using their time effectively to complete the tasks they have been assigned.
9) Encourage a culture of creativity and innovation – encourage employees to come up with new ideas and share them with the team during team meetings.
10) Most importantly, trust your team – if you trust in your team, they will trust you. Allow employees to manage their day and trust they will get the work done
When faced with managing a team remotely, your style may suddenly change without realising and tip you into the micro-management space in the eyes of your employees. By implementing the above tips, you can change your style and become the macro-manager that everyone loves.