How to handle a micromanager—even if it's you

How to handle a micromanager—even if it's you

Learn how to stop the micromanaging madness today.
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Aug 25, 2011
By dvm360.com staff

Countless practice managers complain about a boss who doesn't let them do their jobs. Maybe you're one of them. The solution, according to Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, who presented the Veterinary Economics Managers’ Retreat today in conjunction with the CVC in Kansas City, involves asking the practice owner these types of questions: "Is it your intention to imply I’m incompetent? Is it your intention to say I’m not qualified to do my job?” By posing these queries, the boss should realize how detrimental micromanaging can be. And it may just be the wake-up call he or she needs to start turning some authority over to you.

But what if you’re faced with a bunch of team members who need to be micromanaged? You know, the team members who either fail to complete a task or do so poorly. The problem with this is that many practice managers end up doing things themselves. That’s just the only way anything gets done and done well. If this describes your situation, guess what; you're a micromanager, said McVey, who owns the veterinary consulting firm McVey Management Solutions in Chicago.

To get employees to be accountable for their own jobs (and free yourself from working in the business instead of on it), you must establish a set of systems. These systems will outline what’s expected of team members, as well as the ramifications of failing to meet the expectations. Without these systems in place, team members don’t know what to do. The result: You do it for them (a.k.a. you micromanage).

But before you get busy setting protocols, first apologize to your team: “I’m sorry I haven’t put systems in place that outline our expectations, ensure we’re on the same page, and hold all of us accountable.” This apology allows you to announce the fact that things are about to change. Team members should be excited about this change. After all, they’ve probably asked you for it, if you stop and think about it. Best yet, if the team complains (which they will) about needing to adhere to the new systems, you can remind them that you’re only doing what they requested, McVey says.

Implementing these systems (and backing off team members) will be difficult, especially for the first year. First, you’ll need to teach employees how to adhere to the systems. And you’ll still need to check up on employees to ensure they’re following the systems. But the pain will be worth it, McVey says. Not only will your practice be more successful, but also team members will ultimately enjoy higher job satisfaction. And so will you, whether you were being micromanaged or doing the micromanaging.