Micromanaging: Planning to Fail

September 28, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

It would be well documented that I am not a micro-manager, if I were capable of documenting well.  I would love to suggest to you that this is because I don’t have any control issues.  However, this is not the case.   I do want things done my way.  I’m just not concerned about the how, but more about the results.  I am incapable of regular-managing myself, how would I even begin to micro-manage someone else.  I say all of this to say that is easy for me to blog about the dangers of micro-managing, because I couldn’t do it even if it were virtuous to do so.

I do on the other hand struggle with control when it comes to the big picture.  I want the results to be what I think they should be.  In a sense, I don’t care how you get there, as long as you get right where I want you to get.  Is that macro-managing?  I am not suggesting that this is better or more noble.  It just is what it is. (Is that a helpful phrase? I think not.  Also not helpful, “at the end of the day.”  Stop saying that.)  In fact, I believe that all kinds of control issues are counter-productive for leaders. Leaders have to be able to trust other people to lead.

God has called leaders to prepare or equip other believers for works of service. (Ephesians 4:11-16) This is how the body of Christ will be built up and be strong.  Leaders don’t do the works of service for them.  Leaders don’t tell them exactly how to do it, which is just another way of doing it yourself.  Leaders don’t have minions who do their bidding.  Leaders point the way, prepare the person, and release them to do it.

“But Cloften, what about excellence?  What if they don’t do it right?  What if it’s bad?  What if they fail?  If they fail, I fail.”  I understand, there is a chance, that if you release leadership over a project or ministry to someone else, they may fail.  Keyword: may.  For your consideration: if your job is to prepare people to serve, if your job is to equip people, but instead you micro-manage a minion and/or do it yourself, you have failed.  Keyword: have.

To micromanage someone is to plan to fail.  You have a couple of choices.  You can definitely fail as a leader by doing everything yourself, micro-managing and exhausting your people.  Or you can run the risk of an event or ministry not going as well as it could or maybe “fail.”  Is it failing though?  If you help a leader and train that leader, give the leader experience, trust them, watch them execute and then help them evaluate it afterwards, is it even possible to fail?  Haven’t you already won?  Isn’t developing and leading people the big idea of Christian leadership?

Wait, did you think it was about surrounding yourself with people that you could boss around who would ultimately make you look good?  Sorry, my bad.  Yeah, that’s not it.


4 Responses to “Micromanaging: Planning to Fail”
  1. Aaron Reddin says:

    I’m curious, because it seems that this post was written about leaders who lead leaders, what your take is on leading non-leaders and if your micro/macro thoughts would remain the same. Just because I’m curious.

  2. cloften says:

    I’ll answer your question with a question (which is a clever way of not answering at all). Who are you leading that would need micro-managing? Let’s assume you have a low level functionary working for you that has to put stamps on an envelope. If you have to stand over them and say, “no, no, no. It’s better to fan out the envelopes and stick on 10 at a time. If you do it that way, it’s better.” Then you stand over and watch them. If you have to do that, you need to get a different low-level functionary. If you can’t trust people with whatever it is they have been tasked to do, you are a control freak wasting your time watching people do stuff. Or you need new people.

    (I guess I did end up answering)

  3. Aaron Reddin says:

    I’ll respond to your question/answer with a question. Am I confused?

    A) Yes

  4. cloften says:

    If you are leading a non-leader, there are still tasks that are designated to them, i.e. Janitor. You are not necessarily looking for your janitor to lead. I still would not micro-manage such a person. I would trust him to clean. I would not say to him, “Hey, you know Fred’s has better toilet brushes.” I would trust and empower him to do the job well. When he didn’t, we would talk about why and I would want him to grow in his skills and “ownership.” If he needs me every week to watch him, check up on him, etc., then I am either a bad leader, a control freak, or it’s time to get a new janitor.

    Better? Or am I not even answering the right question?

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!