Intention vs. the Impact of ‘Micromanaging’
As a dentist, you likely have a high need for achievement and a strong fear of failure. I also suspect that one of the biggest leadership stumbling blocks you face is asking employees to do things that you know how to do very well. It may be that you believe success is less about getting the job done and more about doing things your way. This creates angst for you…and leads to behaviors implied in the term “micromanager.”
The reality is, micromanaging is a paradox. To the dental leader who checks and re-checks the work of others, the intention is to ensure accuracy and reduce anxiety. However, the impact is often very frustrating and even belittling to those on the receiving end.
Certainly employees need to know that you care about getting things done on time and in the right way. But effective leadership varies depending on the person being influenced and the task, job or function that needs to be accomplished. The bottom line is that your staff members need different levels of direction. So when exactly does the positive leadership trait of attending to the details become problematic micromanaging?
1. You spend too much time handholding employees. Sometimes you need to let go of things and allow people to find their own way. Yes, mistakes might happen - but these are also great opportunities for employees to learn and develop new skills. If you are doing too much handholding, is it because that employee is not capable? What kind of training do they need to gain the job know-how to do the work you’ve given them to do? Or, if you’ve been coaching that team member long enough, is it time to think about termination?
2. You spend too much time overseeing particular projects. Letting go of projects can be a fearful experience. As a leader you may fear losing control, losing face, and ultimately losing your business. It’s likely that you are dealing with these fears by using strategies that have worked in the past…like self-reliance. Not knowing any better, you may be overly controlling. Or trying so hard to avoid being controlling that you don't clearly communicate what's expected. Pay attention to which projects you spend the most time checking. Then ask yourself whether you have given the employees responsible for these aspects of the practice a chance to prove their capabilities.
3. You spend time telling people exactly what to do and how to do it. My experience in business is that most employees really want to do a good job. In most cases, if a team member isn't doing a good job it’s often because they don't know how. Think about what kind of instruction is necessary. Is there a way to give less information about ‘how’ you want it done and more clarity about the outcome you expect? In this way you empower employees to find solutions to issues themselves. Then give positive feedback. Successful leaders notice what employees do right, and give them immediate recognition for doing a good job.
4. You find yourself irritated when employees don’t operate the way you do. Not everyone works the same way. Your hygienist may be someone who is creative and spontaneous, but not a morning person. She’s terrific with patients and generates a lot of revenue for the practice. Is there flexibility to adjust her hours? Adapting to someone else's needs goes against the grain of most of us, but it's easier if you focus on the goal you want to achieve. Focus on the things that are most crucial for your success.
Remember, some employees want more direction while others need to be left alone. The key is to know what each member of your team needs to perform at his/her best…and adjust your style to them. Ask employees what level of support they need from you. You might need to adjust their expectations a little, but this is a great place to start.
Tell people that your goal isn’t to be a micro manager. Let them know your intention, and ask for feedback. Be open and make adjustments in your behavior. This approach is a big step in your growth and will change people’s perceptions of you. Aligning your intentions with your impact yields big pay-offs….in team morale and in your bottom line!
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at email@example.com
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