George S. Patton

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

GEORGE S. PATTON

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How to Help (Without Micromanaging)

hbr.org

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  • The power dynamics of being a manager and the multiple personalities that make up a boss can make the subordinates doubt the fact that they can get any effective help.
  • A boss stepping in is perceived as a sign of failure.
  • Employees can become defensive, unreceptive or the provided assistance and demoralized with the involvement of a boss.
  • The Manager needs to clarify their intentions and voice out the fact that they are there as an advisor and not an evaluator.

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Managing Without Micromanaging
  • Micromanagement has a bad reputation, and team members want to work autonomously, not being watched all the time and told what to do.
  • Managers, however, cannot be held guilty in most cases, as team members doing complex work often need extensive help, and are now farther away in their homes, making it even more difficult to oversee.
  • Extensive research has shown that ‘pervasive helping’ leads to better performance, as compared to leaving the employee alone.

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  • If the project is complex, cognitively demanding and highly creative, one has to engage in a deep manner in the short term, but non-engagement(path clearing) in the long term.
  • The manager has to step in when an employee has come upon an obstacle which cannot be taken care of by some feedback or light input and may need to closely align with the team for days.
  • If the other two key strategies are followed by managers, they won’t have a problem doing a timely and intensive intervention when the need is there.

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Successful managers don’t preempt every obstacle a team member encounters but watch and listen, looking for the right time to pitch in. If someone is already stuck in the challenge, first-hand, they are engaged enough to take the advice in a positive manner.

Lending the hand at the right time makes the employee use the instructions in a better way, as if the same thing was said in the beginning, it would not have registered with them at all.

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