So many changes are occurring in the way we work that there is a growing sense of impatience with many of the old ways of doing things. With the vast libraries of knowledge at our fingertips in the digital age, people are not as apt to give the same kind of automatic reverence to experts and managers that have been a mainstay of the corporate world for generations. Since information is now “open source,” resourceful employees are more likely to see themselves as being on the same level as their managers, and heavy-handed micromanagement techniques may backfire. Here are some alternative approaches.

Enable employees to handle as much of their own onboarding process as possible.

Today’s workers are used to navigating complex digital systems. By allowing them to build their own employee profiles, for example, and directly access information about the company culture, goals, and expectations, you’ll let them discover what they need to know on their own terms, in the way that works best for them.

  • Try to avoid “one size fits all” solutions, such as mass orientations and transition processes.
  • Give them a way to ask questions and give feedback during the initial stages of employment.
  • Provide as much individualism as possible throughout the transition process.

Provide a framework of resources employees can access independently.

Giving independent-minded employees direct access to the information they need to operate more autonomously can go a long way toward building trust.

  • Cloud-based project platforms allow projects and resources to be accessed, as they’re needed. Employees can also contribute resources they find or create to be used as references.
  • Give them access to the company’s protocol and procedures, rather than force-feeding it to them. This allows them to look up and apply information to specific situations as needed.
  • Provide the tools and resources required for success, rather than controlling access unnecessarily.

Don’t rely on any assumptions or past experience.

If you approach independent employees in partnership, rather than insisting on an artificial subservience, you will find them to be happy participants. While there are probably many things that can only be learned through experience in your workplace, the perception that everything can be learned with a few keystrokes is not completely wrong.

  • Gaps in knowledge will quickly become apparent, and your experience will be seen as a valuable resource, rather than an unwelcome intrusion.
  • Be open to fresh perspectives. Even areas you’re an expert in may look different through a new set of ideas.
  • Stay flexible. You never know where a great idea may come from. Protocols and procedures can always be improved upon, and even those new to the job may have valuable insights.

Common sense and a willingness to adjust your approach can really help you work successfully with independent hires. Clear expectations and open communication will also help to make new partnerships successful.

Independent employees are often more motivated to succeed and to expand their knowledge and skills. This increases their value and their ability to contribute meaningfully to your company’s success. Encouraging independence is a real win-win. Your company will benefit, and once they’re set up, you can turn your focus to all of those other areas that may be needing your attention.

Adina Miron

3 Comments

  • Avatar Ann R. says:

    The manager’s daily duties now include riding herd over his employees in addition to his own tasks, and the employee being micromanaged never learns or develops productivity on his own. Remove micromanagement, and you and your employees will be working efficiently as a team again. 

  • Avatar Patricia B. says:

    Unfortunately, though, many managers who are guilty of long-term, debilitating micromanagement are completely oblivious to the destructive effects they are having on the organization as a whole. At its best, micromanagement impedes evolution; at its worst, it causes the entire organization to decay from the inside out.

  • Avatar Ellen K. says:

    The first step in avoiding the micromanagement trap (or getting out of it once you’re there) is to recognize the danger signs by talking to your staff or boss. If you’re micromanaged, help your boss see that there is a better way of working. And if you are a micromanager, work hard on those delegation skills and learn to trust your staff to develop and deliver.

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