As we settle into our new remote work mode, I’ve been hearing about team leaders and managers over-managing from clients and others in my professional community.
In an apparent effort to “keep in touch”, these managers hover and provide touchpoints far more often than they did in the office situation.
A direct and recent quote, “I can’t get anything done! My manager wants to video chat about every two hours, which breaks my concentration and workflow. He never did that when we worked in the office.”
Micromanagement is defined as a management style whereby a manager closely observes and/or controls and/or reminds the work of his/her subordinates or employees. Micromanagement is generally considered to have a negative connotation, mainly because it shows a lack of freedom in the workplace.
There could be many reasons for micromanagement in this new age of remote working. For those managers who had an open-door policy, since no one can actually walk through that threshold now, perhaps they feel they need to make themselves more accessible.
Perhaps they are experiencing withdrawal and not coping with a remote workforce well.
They could also be thinking that this is what others (their boss) want.
Could also be that this is what their boss is modeling and expecting.
Regardless of the reason, there are things that can be done to help everyone
Here are a few points for each side to helpfully curb the concerns:
FOR THE TEAM MEMBER:
Be proactive. Rather than waiting for your leader to call, think about what the past few months and particular things are being requested. Ask your leader what you should do to make this remote work experience and his/her job easier.
Drop a short email at the beginning of each workday informing your leader what you plan to accomplish that day.
CC the team leader on any emails you receive/send during the day that relates to this work goal.
Sign off and end the day with a note informing on what was accomplished, problems encountered, help needed, etc.
Ask your leader to schedule specific times for video chats and longer meetings.
FOR THE TEAM MANAGER:
Think about how your habits/patterns for leading have changed since March. What’s new? What’s different? What’s effective?
Set expectations on how you would like your employees to report progress.
Develop a schedule of mandatory meetings with the entire team to keep everyone in touch and to coordinate projects.
Set a specific time weekly to talk individually with each team member – keep it short, try 15 minutes to start.
Texts, Slack, and other related tools work well when short answers are needed.
Ask your employees what they need from you. Be curious about what is working/not working for them and share what is working/not working for you.
Bottom line, you are a team. Teams help each other reach common goals. Open and honest communication is what is needed to navigate times like these … don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and TALK!