The Micro-Managing Manager

We need to be proactive managers and give our team members the space to make the right decisions. The goal is for them to be independent and grow their skills.

OK, we get it! You are the boss, the big cheese, the grand dame, or whatever you want to call yourself. You have power, and it looks good on you! Or does it?

If we are honest, managing people takes effort and a lot of biting your tongue. You have to be patient, kind, and, above all, stay calm at all times. I know what you are thinking: He is writing a fantasy article. Who has time to remain patient and calm when the “stuff” is hitting the fan? Well, even when the fan has made a mess of things, we still need to be proactive managers and give our team members the space to make the right decisions. The goal is for them to be independent and grow their skills. 

Here are some simple things to keep in mind to ensure you set up your team members to thrive in their roles:

Give people space to figure things out.

All of your team members, supervisors, and low-level managers are going to need some time to figure things out. Give them the power to make the choices they need to and be supportive even if they make the wrong ones. If there is an issue, let them find a solution. Don’t bulldoze your way in and take over. If you remove their power, then you also will be the engine, rather than the driver.

Eliminate the “teasers” in your conversations.

It has to be the worst, and one of the most stressful, things to let someone know you aren’t happy about something and then request to meet with him or her later. Why, oh, why would you do that to anyone? Think about it for a moment. You want your team to be productive and to work well with others. You hope they make the best decisions. So what do you go and do? You plant a seed that they are in trouble and then let it grow. If it were me, I would spend the rest of the day thinking about all of the scenarios that could happen. I would be stressed to the max, and let’s face it, I would not be focusing on the job at hand. Not a smart move! Either schedule a meeting right away or find a time that works for the two of you to have a “chat.” Keep those teasers to yourself. It’s actually for your own good.

Don’t question their “free” time.

People need breaks. They need days off to live their lives. Some people may smoke, some may have doctor’s appointments, some will plan weekend getaways, and, well, everyone has things they need to do as they try to live their lives. Let them live it. I am not talking about someone doing something on company time. I am talking about the time that is owed to them. If you pull in personal time into work conversations, it is never going to go well.

Why didn’t you get this done? You had all weekend, and you were in town?

Why did you go out of town when you knew we have a big group coming into the hotel?

Why were you late for the meeting? I saw you were on a smoke break, so you should have been able to get your work done before we had to meet.

Here’s the thing: If you question people’s free time, they start to resent their job. People should be able to take all of their breaks and time off they are allowed without feeling your wrath. When we question how they spend their free time, they start to wonder if this job is worth it. More often than not, their response will be: “If I don’t even get to take a day off without being questioned, they can take this job and …” 

You get the picture. 

Don’t expect your emotional attachment from someone else. 

You are the senior manager or even an owner, and you certainly have an emotional attachment to your business. We get it! Your blood, sweat, and tears went into getting you where you are. You want to succeed. You will give your right leg, not to mention all of your time, to get where you need to be. You have passion and zest for most things about your business because you have a lot of skin in the game. 

Guess what?

Your team members are never going to have that same level of enthusiasm. I don’t want to say that they don’t care, but they don’t care in the same way you do. Your team members do want the organization to succeed. They really do, but their reasons are quite different from yours. This may not be their actual passion project, but this job funds their lives. That doesn’t mean they don’t love what they do. It just means they have a different outlook on what’s essential for them. For some, having a great job that allows them to put their kids through college is incredible, but in the end, it’s about their family. Expect the best from your team, but don’t project your personal expectations. 

There are many more I can add to this list, but let’s leave it there. Now it’s time to sit back and think about how you can empower your team.

Kevin James Saunders is a trainer at Oculus Training Group, a British Columbia-based corporate training and mystery shopping company offering sales management, reservations, sensitivity, and customer service training programs for a variety of service-based industries throughout Canada, the U.S., and the world. For more information, call 888.OCULUS4 or visit You also can connect with Oculus on Twitter @oculustraining, via e-mail at or visit it on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.