Coach – Don’t Manage

What would you rather have, a committed or compliant employees? What camp do your employees belong – the commitment or compliance camp? Coaching is how you create the difference.

Effective coaching helps your folks to be committed, people are begging for leadership not micromanagement. Coaching is a very effective way to avoid micromanagement and become a more impactful leader. What are the warning signs that you are the dreaded micromanager and how can you use coaching to lead more effectively?

First -what are a few of the dreaded symptoms of the notorious micromanagers?

Managers who fear losing control typically embrace micromanagement. (They may even hang on for dear life.)  Because you fear losing control you are obsessed with following every step of every project to the dreaded conclusion. A clear giveaway of micromanagement is that you dish out instructions but make it impossible for your team to give you input, feedback or suggestions. Micromanagers are bad listeners. The ratio of listening to instructing will tell you where you are on the continuum of micromanagement vs. coaching. Coaches listen, and micromanagers tell.

Your approach is the best approach


Your work is the best work and your employees work is always substandard. How often do your employees get the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and know how?  Micromanagers push employees aside and those employees begin to doubt their talents and abilities.

Continuous interference

If you are always in the driver’s seat of every small decision you are micromanaging. Yes, as a leader you should have a say in the larger decisions, but not in every minuscular aspect of the business. How will your people learn and grow if you overlook every aspect of their job?

You focus on how not what

You may want a job done, but do you have to have it done your way? The Frank Sinatra syndrome “I did it my way.” This is the difference between managing and micro-management. When you delegate a task to another employee, don’t focus on how they should do it, but on what they should do. The difference is coaching vs. micromanaging. People micromanage because they are afraid of the consequences of not being totally and fully in charge of every detail.

What are some of the best ways to overcome micromanagement?

  1. Ask employees how they would do the task. And then let them do it. Their way!
  2. Ask employees to give you a plan on how they can accomplish the task you have selected? Let them execute their plan.
  3. Ask your employees this simple question? Am I a micromanager? If they answer yes, listen and then without defensiveness ask “How would you recommend how I overcome it?” Trust me they have been waiting a long, long time for you to finally ask. Believe me they have many suggestions to fix this problem.

Don’t let micromanagement keep you from being a great leader. Learn to ask questions as an effective coach and it will set you on the path of being a great manager.

Simple Steps to Coaching

You can use these steps to provide effective supportive coaching to your employees.

  • Start with the Power of Belief. Your confidence in your employee’s ability can go a long way to becoming an effective coach. People know when you don’t believe or have confidence in them. Ask him or her for help in solving a problem or ask them to search for a solution. Ask the employee to join in with you with the goal of increasing the employees’ effectiveness as a contributor to your organization.
  • Describe the performance disconnect with the employee. Do you have any data to share to start the discussion? Don’t tell them about the data, ask them to interpret it. In a performance issue there is always data. Ask the question “what does the data mean to you?” This will reveal the employee’s perspective. Do they see the same problem or opportunity that you do?
  • What is causing the performance challenge. There are 3 simple words to get to the heart of this matter. Will, Hill or Skill? Does the employee have the willingness or the will to do the task? Is there some type of obstacle a.k.a. the hill? Or does the employee lack the talent or the skill to accomplish the task? Every employee performance issue will fall into one of these three categories.
  • Ask the employee for ideas on how to correct the problem, or prevent it from happening again. With your stars you want to improve their performance with the average performer you want to work on how to move towards continuous improvement.
  • Have the employee write out an agreed upon action plan that lists what the employee will do to correct the problem or improve the situation. Pick specific goals and targets to measure success and gives you a tool to track progress.
  • Follow up. If you don’t follow up, you are drifting towards failure. You are drifting because your plan is now a rudderless ship. Set a date and time for follow-up. Offer positive encouragement. Express confidence in the employee’s ability to improve. But recognize they have to do it. You can’t do it for them. You can coach them to success, but they must work towards success.