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Management vs Micromanagement – Where is the Line?

August 15, 2017

“Where is the line between managing and micromanaging?” This was a question asked last week at the Colorado Veterinary Hospital Managers meeting where CATALYST VetPC gave a presentation on culture in the hospital setting.

Having been a manager myself, that is a hard question to answer, yet an excellent one to ask.  A good place to start is to decide if you are micromanaging.

There are tools to help you identify what kind of a manager you are. I found this one at DVM360: Bizquiz “Do you Manage or Micromanage?”

Take this quiz to find where you fall in managing others. The only way to find out is to look honestly at yourself. If you can’t do this, perhaps have a team member take the quiz as if he or she were answering for you. If you don’t trust anyone to appropriately reflect how you would respond, then you have your answer! You are a micromanager!

As a manager, you are in charge of the outcome and quality of projects. However, it is not realistic to think that you can do them all. Therefore, assigning tasks to others is the only way to get everything completed. You are the one who hired intelligent, motivated and engaged team members, empower them.

When a team member is assigned a project or task and it isn’t completed the way you envisioned, then what? What process broke or was not in place for success?

Here are a few ideas that may be of assistance.

First, think of the big picture. Define the purpose and final outcome, verbally and visually (if applicable). Does the person have to do the project exactly the way you envision it or are alternate avenues acceptable? Define the objectives.

Are the final expectations clearly outlined from the beginning, or is it “see as you go” scenario? Projects that allow for leeway and creativity might have more flexible agendas. Where ones that are more rigorous and detailed may require closer oversight.

However, beware as too much oversight might squash the creativity in others, leading to feelings of apathy and disengagement, especially in future projects. If creativity isn’t allowed to morph on its own, then it will go away. If this (too much oversight) happens one too many times, then you’ll have robots instead of people for team members.

Second, provide and define tools and resources for success. Communicate to the people doing the project what is available to them. Clearly outline parameters such as:

  • Financial constraints
  • Time limitations
  • People to collaborate with
  • Books or articles necessary for understanding

Perhaps writing out the vision in a form of “SMART” would be helpful (click here for worksheet). This stands for specific, measurable, accountable or attainable, realistic and timely. There can be variations on this outline as needed. Use this tool as you see appropriate to achieve your end product.

Third, meet on a regular basis to make sure the project is on track. This also sets mini-deadlines for the people.  Make sure that you are giving them time during their normal work day to do the project. Time frames or work loads may need to be adjusted in order to succeed.

Is the act of micromanaging really worth the consequence of risking respect of others? When you micromanage, it says you don’t trust someone else to do the work and you don’t believe in them as professionals.

Be honest about your personal expectations of the completed project. Are you a perfectionist and therefore all projects must be “perfect,” or is there some wiggle room?

In self-reflection, are you micromanaging? This can be a difficult question to ask yourself, yet one that is pertinent to the culture of your hospital.

If you’re being micromanaged by the owner, don’t turn around and do it to the rest of the staff. As a manager, you get to help create the culture. Decide how it should be, then fight the inner micromanager and just let the projects be how others see them. Chances are, they will turn out better than you originally thought.

Yours in Project Completion,

Denise Mikita, MS, CVT

About the author
Denise received her veterinary technology degree from Front Range Community College in 1997. She has held multiple positions both for employment and as a volunteer. These include: a small animal clinic, a specialty clinic, and the Denver Zoo Hospital. She held the position of Executive Director for Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians (CACVT) for 10 years. She has sat on multiple boards and organizations including the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). Currently Denise is the Executive Assistant for CATALYST Veterinary Practice Consultants.