Are You a Helicopter Manager?

Stop hovering over your employees, waiting for them to drop the ball. A business guru teaches you how to stop micromanaging.
Are You a Helicopter Manager?
Make clear what the employee needs to do, why it needs to be done, who’s in charge, how much time he or she has and when it needs to be done

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It’s a dilemma any business leader faces: How do you effectively manage your employees without veering into hovering, nitpicking or interfering with everything they do? 

When business makeover expert Ellen Rohr hears the term micromanager she thinks of two words: opportunity hog. “When you micromanage, you ruin the opportunities that you could be making available to your team,” she says. According to her, ineffective delegation is often at the root of the issue. 

It’s not uncommon for business leaders to assign a task or project to others and then throw their arms up in frustration after the fact because it wasn’t handled properly, Rohr says, but you can delegate without abdicating. The secret lies in the process. 

Set staff up for success

Rohr explains that as a leader, it is your role to establish expectations and set your employees up for success. The first step is holding a quality meeting. 

“Meetings have a bad reputation because most meetings are terrible,” Rohr says. “There’s usually somebody getting chewed out or there’s no agenda.” Making a tangible effort to keep meetings effective and worthwhile will pay dividends in the long run. 

Conduct a brainstorming session with the individual (or team lead) assigned to a project to come up with as many ideas as possible that could help solve the issue at hand. From there, boil it down and determine a small handful of tasks that could realistically be accomplished within a week. That way, when you touch base again you can easily check in on progress. 

Learn to delegate together

Make clear what the employee needs to do, why it needs to be done, who’s in charge, how much time he or she has and when it needs to be done, Rohr notes. If you answer those familiar journalistic questions together, you’ll be more successful at getting things done the right way. 

“You learn together how to delegate projects,” Rohr says. “If people get projects done then they can move mountains. They can go to the moon. But if you’re going to do it all yourself, you’re going to get old and tired and broken and have no money.”


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