Sunday, June 17, 2012

How to Manage a Micromanger

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”
~Ronald Reagan

Recently, I wrote a column about how ineffective micromanaging is and urged all micromanagers out there to alter their ways so they can be better leaders. Micromanaging seldom works and it destroys the fabric of the team.

Since writing that column, I have been inundated with notes from readers asking what they can do if they have a boss who micromanages. The first place to start would be to find out what is triggering their micromanaging. It can not always be assumed that it is the manager’s problem.

Often, micromanagers over supervise because they feel the employee is just not doing the job. I have seen many situations where employees are complaining loudly about a manager they claim is a micromanager only to discover that it is actually the employees who are the ineffective ones. In cases like these, the solution is to build the manager’s trust. The employee needs to prove to their boss that they do not need this constant supervision.

In the event the problem is not an employee performance issue, you will need to have a strategy for dealing with your micromanaging boss. This strategy must start with very honest dialogue.

During this conversation, you might ask your boss something like, “You seem to be managing me very closely. In order to do a better job, what can I do to improve your trust in me?” Keep it very positive and be honest. Honesty is critical as is really listening to what your boss is saying to you.

You may also want to ask your manager how they would like you to communicate your progress on the projects you are working on. Most managers just want to know how things are progressing. Many are simply fearful that things will fall between the cracks. The more you can allay this fear, the better, so it might be helpful to provide regular progress updates.

This is such a small thing, but I have seen this work well in so many cases. The more you communicate to your boss about the status of your work, the less they will micromanage you.

Now there may come a time when you really, really like your job but your boss is giving you grief by micromanaging you. In these cases, you have to do a cost benefit analysis to see if staying is worthwhile. That is, you will need to ask yourself if the benefits of working at a job you love makes tolerating the micromanager a fair tradeoff.

If you have done everything you can, but nothing changes with your micromanager, you may get to the point where you will need to seriously consider leaving the job. Working for a micromanager is very stressful, and we need less stress in our lives, not more.

Now go out and make sure you do everything you can to find out why your boss is micromanaging you. Communicate often so your boss learns to have more and more trust in you. If all else fails, looking for another job might be the only viable alternative.

You can do this!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Allow access to Social Media by your Staff

“Being social, even outside the confines of the company, makes workers more comfortable and happy.”
~Kevin Rice, AT Kearney

I was recently consulting with a company when the CEO made a comment about how many of her employees were using social media networks instead of working. After walking through the office to talk to her staff, she had become concerned about how much time they seemed to be spending on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, despite the fact that many were continuously saying they are overworked. In light of this, she wanted to pull the plug on all social network access.
After hearing this business owner’s experience, I was convinced that the best strategy was to prohibit access to all social networking sites during the work day. However, after doing some research and talking to others in the field as I prepared for this column, my posture has changed dramatically. I am a new convert to the school of thought that allowing social networking use is good business policy.
A study conducted by an industrial research firm recently showed that 50 percent of the large firms surveyed allow their employees to access social media, and they predict that will grow to 70 percent in a couple of years. Obviously the trend among large companies is to allow employees access to these sites.
While the percentage of small firms permitting social media use is much lower, I really feel they need to follow the larger corporations’ lead and consider opening this up to their employees.
With the advent of smart phones, your staff has the capability of accessing social media even if you prohibit it on the computer system. In the end, the same amount of time will be consumed.
For those who are unconvinced by the “they are going to do it anyway” argument, look at it this way. It is increasingly commonplace for your employees to put in workdays much longer than the standard eight hours as they continue to work from home long after they have left the office. Many of your employees feel that they deserve a break after working on an in-depth analysis of some aspect of your business, and more and more companies have made the decision to permit social media access in order to compensate their staff for this personal time.
Another common occurrence is for employees to have their personal e-mails delivered to their company account, which means they are spending some of their work time answering personal e-mails. As these observations show, your staff is using your IT resources for personal purposes in so many different ways these days. This is just the world we live in, and it must be accepted if we want to keep our staff happy.
An open policy about social networking is also a great recruiting tool for new and younger employees. These Gen Y folks think of computers and technology as their birthright, and being denied this creates some difficult situations.
Now, does this mean that you allow workers to use social media for an inordinate amount of time? Of course not. There is a big difference between a reasonable amount of use and abusing the privilege.
Though having a policy permitting open access makes it more difficult to let an employee go on the basis of excessive use of the web and social media, good management practices should be able to handle this situation in the majority of cases.
Now go out and consider implementing a policy that allows use of social media and the web. There is no question in my mind that this is good policy for both the company and the employee.
You can do this!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Greeting your Customers is so Important!

Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can.
Gary Comer
  Recently I was looking for some new wood flooring for my townhouse. I really did not know what I needed or the pros and cons of different options(and there are tons of them) and had no idea on the coloring of the wood as well.  Trying to be a wise consumer, I went to no less than 5 wood flooring stores. With the construction business being down, I was expecting to get a red carpet rolled out for me with a drum fanfare. However, anything but this occurred. Rather than cheers going up when I arrived I was completely ignored by 3 of the stores and with one store I could not even find one employee to ask a question even though the store was wide open.
   Greeting a customer should just not be something of undue importance. Rather it should be the utmost importance and one that cannot be forgotten for any business. After all a warm greeting by an employee is a significant part of the first impression of every store and every business.  If a customer is not greeted when they arrive, the customer assumes, whether it is right or wrong does not matter,  that this business just  does not need or want to help the customer.
   Now I am sure that many employees do not like to greet customers as sometimes customers can be very unfriendly. However, whether the customer is unfriendly, mean, or looking squirly, each and every customer “must” be greeted within 30 seconds of their arrival. A greeting is a way of saying, thank you for coming into our store or business today and we appreciate the opportunity to serve you. I have seen many cases where a salesman goes up to greet a customer that looks very rough only to sell them over $10,000 in products. The point being is that every customer must be greeted as if they are the most important person in the world to the staff member greeting them.
  Every business spends so much on advertising and promotion, and to blow it on not having a greeter, just is not a good idea. I recently stopped by a real estate office with a good friend that wanted to buy a new house. We arrived at the office at the correct time, but no one was around at all. Only by hollering at 10db or higher, we were we able to finally pull someone out of their secret hideout to come and help us. We almost walked out of the office, if it was up to me I would of. Regardless, both of us quickly realized that the message that was being sent was that we were not important even though there might be a large commission in the works for the salesperson and agency.
  While I could go on and on in terms of the poor greetings that I have personally received and so many people have told me about theirs.  The point is that this happens on a regular basis and just cannot be tolerated in any successful business.
   Now just telling the staff that you expect to greet a customer is 30 seconds or less in that if you lay out the expectation, then you must inspect to insure that this is happening. Inspecting just cannot be a one time affair but must be continually done to insure that your expectations are being me.
   Now go out and make sure that you have a very effective process in place to insure that each customer gets greeted with a smile and warm welcome within 30 seconds of their arrival.
  You can do this!