Whenever I mention micro-management in workshops and conferences, I get a tide of pained expressions and knowing nods.

What is micro-managing?

Let's check the symptoms. Do you:

  • obsess about procedural trivia
  • give your team detailed instructions for every task
  • send out 'to do' lists for your team to follow
  • ask for unnecessary or overly detailed reports
  • insist on making make all the decisions yourself?

It's human, especially when we are not feeling confident about our role, or our team's skills.

Does micro-management matter?

Definitely. It's poor leadership. It destroys engagement and with it, efficiency, productivity, motivation and customer service. It drives people away. Only about 40 per cent of New Zealand employees are engaged at work. What a waste of talent.

What can I do instead?

Effective leaders around the world help others shine. To do that, they give away power and responsibilty. They let their team members make decisions and learn from successes and setbacks.

My guiding principle of leadership is to hire people I trust - and trust them. In the last 30 years I've been well rewarded by that principle and never let down.

If one of the team is not ready to work independently, the solution should be coaching or training, not micro-management.

Recognise your employees' strengths and their contributions generously.

I've always liked the Japanese proverb: 'No one of us is as smart as all of us'. It's encouraging to hear it being mentioned occasionally in conversation - usually after a success. It's part of our culture.