November 2011 Archives
Micromanaging employees can be wrought with challenges. Of course, there are obvious issues, like increased stress on the micromanaged employee and potentially poorer results. In addition, exerting one’s limited resources for the purposes of actually engaging in micromanaging employees takes time, energy, and attention away from other workplace endeavors. After all, if you are micromanaging someone, you can’t be doing something else at the same time, right?
So that got me thinking: Why do some of us default to micromanaging employees? I reviewed a host of resources, trying to identify some common issues that cause supervisors to micromanage their subordinates. It didn’t take long to identify a couple of big, interrelated issues that surface over and over again:
- Probably the biggest issue concerns lack of trust in subordinates. We don’t like to take our finger off the control button when we don’t have faith in those to whom we are relinquishing control. To borrow from Situational Leadership, this is often a supervisor’s perception that employees either lack the competence or the commitment necessary to do something the right way. If this is the case, mentoring or coaching can be a useful way to help eliminate this barrier.
- However, many supervisors lack expertise in mentoring and coaching employees. An effective mentoring or coaching process could help transition supervisors and employees from a micromanaging style to a more autonomous style. But, therein lies the rub: If you have no process in place for mentoring or coaching (or you don’t know how to do it well), that systematic development may not be occurring.
Of course, managers are recognized and rewarded based on the ability of their employees to produce results. This can lead supervisors to try and ensure results are achieved by taking on too much involvement in subordinates’ day-to-day work activities. The logic seems sound: “If I stay highly involved, employees will do things exactly the right way,” which is code for “exactly the way I would approach things.”
The problem with this logic is that trying to foist one’s own work style or approach to problems on everyone else can actually have the exact opposite effect. Instead, managers need to learn how to cultivate a work culture that builds trust, competence, and engagement among all staff. That is the best way to cut the micromanaging tether.
The use of financial incentives to promote health behavior change is all the rage in the world of corporate wellness, but what do we really know about the effectiveness of this approach? There is definitely a role for incentives. They can get employees who wouldn't otherwise participate to take action. They can be particularly effective when they help remove barriers that would otherwise prevent the recipient from getting involved. But, incentives generally work best for simple, discrete, short-term behaviors. I don't know about you, but making significant, sustainable health-behavior changes doesn't sound simple, discrete or short term to me.
Employers aren't just pushing incentives at the workforce. Employees tell us that to participate in their company's wellness offerings, they want incentives.
There is much more to be said on the topic of incentives in wellness and health promotion, including discussion about rewarding participation vs. outcomes, the role of readiness for change, what extrinsic rewards might do to intrinsic motivation and more. But for now, I'll leave you with these questions...
- Is your organizational culture really healthy if you have to pay your employees to participate in your wellness program?
- How do we provide wellness offerings that people actually want to use?
At our 2011 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Conference, Joe Gerstandt kicked off the second day with a lively plenary session titled "What Diversity and Inclusion Mean Today." In the program, he challenged participants to reset the diversity and inclusion conversation in their organizations and encouraged them to recommit to this body of work at this very critical time.
Joe's message was simultaneously simple and complex, as he painted a broad view of what makes us "different" and challenged audience preconceptions about how we define and approach diversity in the workplace.
Watch a brief message from Joe and then check out some additional resources, below.
From Joe's Blog:
Future of Diversity and Inclusion Work-prologue
The Future of Diversity and Inclusion Work (part 1) Social Media
The Future of Diversity and Inclusion Work (part 2) Human Nature
The Future of Diversity and Inclusion Work (part 3) Conflict
The Future of Diversity and Inclusion Work (part 4) New Way of Work
The Future of Diversity and Inclusion Work (part 5) New Way of Leadership
Toward a general theory of Diversity and Inclusion…
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