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Ask Allen: Am I a Micromanager?

I find myself always having to remind an employee to do the tasks associated with their job. How can I get them to do their job on their own without constant reminders and checking in on them?

--New Manager trying to learn

Depending on how many people are reporting to you, it would be good to have regularly scheduled meetings with each person on a periodic basis. These can be short meetings, but they give both you and the employee a set time to express what each wants to address. Items such as you mentioned are best addressed in private meetings, whether regularly scheduled or on a single called basis.

In this case, it appears that you have already brought the matter of not completing assigned tasks to the employee’s attention. I suggest something along the following lines:

  1. Schedule a private meeting. This should be in your office, if it is private; otherwise, make sure it is held at a place away from earshot, and sight if practicable, from other employees.

  2. If it is true, open the conversation with something along the lines of “you are really talented and can be an asset to our team, but I need to mention something that is presenting a problem for our company, for me and my responsibilities, and potentially for you. The problem is that for us to function well, everyone has to perform his or her job responsibilities, much the same as each member of a football team. If one fails to perform properly; the entire team fails. It seems that we are having a problem with your not performing well in handling xxxxxx.”

I am here to help, but the job really needs to be done. Is it a matter of training? Lack of materials? Do you think that that is a problem, and what do you think it is, and what can I do to help”? At this point, listen; in all probability the employee will tell you exactly what he or she thinks.

  1. Develop a plan; e.g. additional training, handling other things that may be a problem, receiving an assurance that he or she will improve, etc.; but establish a time frame to have the matter corrected. It may be appropriate to establish dates and inform the employee that X must happen by X date; otherwise, you may need to find someone else to fill the position. I always referred this meeting as a “final chat,” which allows the employee to make needed corrections and not be blindsided by getting fired without warning. Many a good employee was saved by (a) recognizing and acknowledging the problem, (b) having he opportunity to correct the situation. If termination then occurred, they left the company on good terms realizing that the termination was necessary. Even if they didn’t agree with the decision, they recognized that they had been treated fairly.

Simply stated, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and treat them in a manner that you would like to be treated.

Note: Please consider attending one of our roundtable sessions if you'd like more assistance tailored to your needs.

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