Do you meddle too much? Are you always looking over your employees´ shoulders? Are you a bit of a micromanager? Don´t worry. We´re all guilty, especially if you care deeply about the success of your company. But when is your deep concern too much to the extent that it interferes with a staffer´s productivity and, in some cases, motivation?
Take a report or a memo. It´s one thing if someone asks you to review some text before it goes out to a customer, prospect, or whomever. Presumably, this person wants your input, so you give it, right? Be careful-there are lots of ways to offer criticism. There´s the ubiquitous "constructive" criticism and then there´s destructive criticism. Let´s just not use the latter; it´s never good for anyone. But while you´re being constructive make sure you do so without annihilating the person´s work. Your job in terms of employee development is to show people how to get things done. Instead of saying, "Why would you write that?" or "No one is going to pay attention to that kind of language," help your employee try to figure out for herself what needs fixing. Ask questions like "Who´s your audience here?" or "What are you really trying to convey?"
Often, when people are not confident in their writing abilities (or speaking skills) they tend to talk around a subject. They´re so unsure of themselves that they practically sabotage their own work. Your job is to teach. One of the best strategies is to show, not tell.
So what happens when a boss gets too involved? For starters, there´s resentment. Over-involved managers, regardless of their good intentions, risk what could be relationships built on trust. If we are too overbearing we´re sending a message that says, "I can´t quite trust you to get the job done" or "You´ve never gotten it right before so why should I believe that you´ll get it right this time?"
And can you ever be too detail oriented? Yes, sometimes, especially when deadlines are looming. I know that in many cases, we do need to sweat the small stuff. But that can become a habit that if not checked can hurt your people and your business. Instead of focusing on getting the job done your staff will try to figure out how to outwit your picayune tendencies. Then the whole learning thing becomes a silly game.
Ask yourself if you get too involved. Try to recall a time when you had a boss who micromanaged. How did you react then and how would you react now?
Next time: more about our over-involved selves and what we can do about it.