The Worst Kind of Micromanaging

The Worst Kind of Micromanaging, Photo by Zac Gudakov on Unsplash

A week ago I attended the annual meeting of our homeowners association (HOA). In past years it has been a controversial affair but this year it was noteworthy for a different reason. It provided a classic example of micromanaging, one we can learn from. Our HOA is made up of volunteers who invest their time to manage shared homeowner responsibilities including activities such as landscaping, architectural standards, and road maintenance. Important things but generally not very exciting, except when you are a leadership coach.

Bad behavior

As the meeting got underway, HOA board members gave updates on the current year and their plans for the next one. And this is where it started. The first presenter was barraged with questions at the end of their update. The problem is they weren’t really questions, they were directions disguised as questions. Things such as ‘have you considered….’. The questions quickly gave way to overt advice giving. You should do….

So what’s the problem? Doesn’t every homeowner have a right to have their say? Yes and no. Not when it becomes micromanaging. The board is elected by members of the neighborhood and as such they are empowered representatives. When we tell them what to do, we are disempowering them. In effect, we are telling them we don’t trust them. We need to control not only what they do but how it is done. It is micromanaging at its worst.

A healthier alternative to micromanaging

Instead of micromanaging I recommend doing three things:

  1. Set clear outcomes and goals, and secure commitment to achieve them.
  2. Check in periodically on progress to achieve the goals. Is any help needed? Are any in jeopardy?
  3. Thank them and reward completion or renegotiate outcomes not delivered.

By doing these three things, especially #1 , you will generate better outcomes and you won’t have to be in the middle of everything. And the people you are empowering will appreciate it. In fact, it is a good example of doing less and leading more. If you want to learn more about how to be an effective leader, check out my new book, ‘Do Less, Lead More‘.

Are you leading your team or are you micromanaging it?