Micromanagement is not the answer

In an excellent article about the challenges of staying in touch with your team in this era of necessary isolation, Kerry Goyette explains why some leaders resort to micromanagement. Micromanagement is often not a preferred leadership style but caused by a feeling that leaders are losing control when they don’t see their teams working as they would like.

Goyette provides a number of reasons why teams may diverge from their leader’s vision. Communication is key especially when working remotely is the norm. Above all, clarity of communication about the vision and broad goals is required, not step-by-step instructions about how to achieve the vision. As Goyette puts it “This is where we’re headed. Your job is deciding how we’ll get there.”

However, on its own, clear communication is sometimes not enough for a team to operate at its full potential. Trust within the team is part of the answer but Goyette also highlights the need for a shared consciousness in the team where every member knows the strengths and weaknesses of their colleagues and understands instinctively how to operate successfully and avoid issues. Leaders can encourage teams to achieve shared consciousness by rewarding successful teamwork.

Together with clarity of communication and shared consciousness in teams, Goyette promotes the improvement of negotiation skills, in and across teams and with leaders – “negotiation can promote communication, problem-solving, and win-win conflict resolution in the workplace, so these are skills everyone should harness.” By creating a safe environment in which team members can negotiate for more autonomy, leaders can in turn negotiate for the information they really need.

But how do leaders discover that their teams are hampered by a lack of clarity or an underdeveloped consciousness? What if an absence of negotiation with teams does not mean that all is good but conceals an unresolved problem? Goyette points to the role of the brain in creating stories that can set leaders on the wrong path or in creating paralysis in a team without a clear vision. Discovery of underlying issues in an organisation is very difficult, especially in the current environment. Tools that can rapidly assess the state of the organisation’s ‘nervous system’ can help leaders address these issues before they become critical.