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Monday, August 25, 2014

Micro Becomes Macro

As a followup to my previous blog on the Global Leadership Summit, I want to key in on a difficult area for some leaders. Micromanagement. It’s one of those crippling organizational weaknesses that causes people to leave jobs. As was noted at the Summit, people don’t leave good companies. They leave bad managers. (Or bad leaders!)

This is exactly the way Jessica Marie said it in her recent Linked In article, “Micromanagers: Flushing Companies down the Toilet, One Detail at a Time.” (

Jessica describes herself as a storyteller, marketer, and business designer. She certainly seems to be a clear thinker on this topic.

Here is her descriptive overview of the problem: “Micromanaging is a method of management in which an individual closely observes or controls the work of an employee. In comparison to simply giving general direction, the micromanager monitors and evaluates every stage in a process, from beginning to end. This behavior negatively affects efficiency, creativity, trust, communication, problem-solving, and the company’s ability to reach its goals.” One might sarcastically add, “Apart from this, it’s not a problem.” But, of course, it IS!

I was assigned a leadership role in a company several years ago reporting to only the head of the company. He was very gifted. Highly creative, seasoned well by some earlier difficulties in business, and insightful in many areas. Except one. He loved stepping into a role where it appeared that if he did not constantly look after the details, things would go bust.

Employees felt this, of course. Most of these competent people were not trusted to do their work well. They were not given their clear assignment and then left alone to succeed at it. Read Jessica’s article. Micromanagers cannot expect trust to be developed with an employee because they don’t show it! People prefer to be left alone to do the work after they understand what the job requires.

There is an ugly twin to this issue. It’s doing the other person’s job FOR them. I’ve seen this as well. It occurs when a job title is given, but the employee never gets the real authority to do the job. The boss basically does the job, except for the details, which require less aptitude or decision making ability. This most frustrates employees who are quite capable and feel like they are living in a charade.

Let’s turn to a Master Manager and world renowned leader for how to do this right. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. After assembling his team and giving them several coaching sessions, they were given field representative roles to take His message and His methods to the people. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 10, we read His empowering words to launch them into action:

“Jesus called twelve of his followers and sent them into the ripe fields. He gave them power to kick out the evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives. Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: ‘Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.’” (The Message)

Read the entire chapter. It’s a gem. Jesus gives them clear instruction. Authorizes power to act. And leaves them alone to go and do the job. Away goes micromanagement. It’s been the way of The Way ever since…if done right.

If God can entrust the world’s most important message to misfits, well, figure it out. The right people…empowered to do the right thing…led by you. What a concept! (P.S. Don’t try this with cats.)

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Listen each weekday, from 4-6 pm Central Time, to Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand. AM1160 in Chicagoland, AM1160 app, or online/podcast at 

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