The worst mistake a leader can make with a star performer

by on October 13, 2010 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

How many times have failed leaders looked back and said, “I hired A-Team players to fill the key positions in my company. So I can’t understand why I never succeeded.”

What the failed leader won’t recognize is that time and again her A-Team players bailed because she couldn’t back off and let them do their jobs.

It would be hard to overstate how destructive it is to micromanage high performers. Strong, confident people know that they need to make their own mistakes and learn from them. A micromanager is basically in the business of preventing people from doing just that. Micro-managers disempower the people they need the most.

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Let’s acknowledge that micromanagement is appropriate in some cases — with rank beginners, or in a crisis, or when an employee is underperforming. But what motivates some managers to micromanage people ALL the time?

Lack of trust. Micromanagers are often extremely competent people who actually DO know more than the people they oversee, including their stars. Problem is, they don’t trust anybody else to get things right. So they intervene. They prevent mistakes. They fix problems themselves. Or they dictate what needs to be done. All the while depriving their people of the chance to learn.

We all occasionally feel the urge to micromanage — to step in and fix things. To avoid that urge, reframe the issue: Your job as a leader isn’t just to “get things done.” It’s to “develop people who can get things done.” If you see your job that way, you’ll micromanage a lot less. And you won’t disempower your best people.

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