Why micromanagement should be consigned to historyNatalie
Micromanagement belongs in the realms of history
Many managers who are in their forties and fifties have spent their careers practising dehumanising and disempowering micromanagement styles that, let’s be honest, date back to the cotton mill days.
With the advent of hybrid working, it’s literally not possible to be watching over employees’ shoulders 24/7 – not that we should we want to. Knowing how to monitor productivity based on outcomes, rather than tasks, is a skills gap many managers are now facing for the very first time.
Years ago, whilst working in HR, I identified that society was changing, what people wanted from their work was changing; employees want interesting work that makes a difference and aligns with their personal sense of purpose and values. They want leaders who care about them as individuals, and they want the opportunity to work flexibly. The pandemic has been a catalyst to this societal shift.
It was this shift that led me to using outcome-based working practices with my clients and is something I’ve been championing for years especially in tech and digital creative companies who were pioneering the hybrid working model before it got famous.
This is not a new concept though. Research done as far back as the 1970s indicated that focussing on the outcomes of work rather than the activity led to higher performance.
Thanks to the pandemic, the popularity of the hybrid working model has sky-rocketed with The Office for National Statistics reporting that 85% of workers want to use a hybrid approach (Business and individual attitudes towards the future of homeworking, UK: April to May 2021)
With this shift, has come many challenges for leaders and managers, especially those whose management style has been one of ‘command and control’ that echo back to the cotton mill days.
How easy is it to switch to outcome based working?
I’m glad to see the popularity of outcome-based working increase over recent months as companies look at the impact of home working and how to operate most effectively. However, I must warn you that adopting this framework is a significant shift to make. Consciously changing the culture of an organisation requires genuine buy-in from every member of the team and takes a lot of time and effort from leaders.
Traditionally, companies have adhered to a culture where the physical presence of employees determined the value of their work. Being visible in the office was a measure of performance and the willingness of that employee to do their job. This culture resulted in presenteeism; is the act of showing up for work without being productive.
Where it was important to see employees physically in the past, the challenge of post-pandemic, modern working is that it simply cannot be done anymore. It’s not possible for managers to be watching their employees at all times and base performance solely on attendance or visible activity.
Hints and tips for success
So, what are the core elements you need to have in place if you’re considering making the shift to outcome-based working in your business?
- Firstly, having a clear purpose, vision, mission and values is essential. When you leave people alone to get on and achieve outcomes, there is inevitably more reliance on their judgement. The framework to support them making the right calls for the business comes from employees knowing why it exists, where it’s going and how it will get there.
- Secondly, a high level of buy-in from employees is key. The cultural change will naturally give more flexibility to employees, but it also places more accountability on them to be productive over simply ‘showing up’. Any disengaged employees will struggle to adapt, so it’s important that each employee can engage and adapt to the new culture.
- Thirdly, the role of a manager will need to change in an outcome-based culture and effective training must be put in place, so they develop the skills to operate as coaches rather than overseers.
- Fourthly, it’s important that leaders have trust in their employees. The role of the employee will be focused on their output and not on their presence, so it’s a matter of trusting your employees to achieve their objectives, even if they are remote working. In my experience, lack of trust is one of the key factors that prevents effective remote working for many companies.
Hopefully, the pandemic has changed the minds of most leaders who have now realised that when trusted, most people will do their best work without being watched. If you are considering changing the way you work to an out-come focused strategy, I’d love to help. Ring me on 020 8798 3470 or you can drop me a message here.