While coaching and training leaders on the keys to successful delegation, I like to say, “Follow up is a good leadership practice, but micromanagement is not.”
What’s the difference between the two?
Without proper follow up, leaders could be disappointed should a delegated task fall short of expectations. To avoid this, leaders are wise to follow up on the progress of the task assigned and provide support. “Follow up” is best described as periodic check-ins to ensure all milestones are being met, resources are available, and obstacles are removed. These clear the path for successful task completion.
When following up on a delegated task, micromanagers behave differently. They interfere by instructing the person assigned the task to approach it in a specific way. As an example, they’d say, “Don’t do it that way; do it this way (or my way) instead.”
Worse yet, micromanagers might take back the assignment because they think they can do it quicker or better themselves. By doing this, they often lose the respect and trust of others in the process.
Earn trust and respect by following up well. Then double down by avoiding micromanaging.
Leaders have many opportunities to follow up with individuals or groups of people. Not doing so in a timely manner or not delivering on an expectation they set or a promise they’ve made can also cost them in trust and respect. Think about opportunities such as fulfilling a request for information, living up to a promise, or positioning someone to be empowered to take on a new responsibility.
To earn trust and respect—and avoid micromanaging—take these follow-up actions:
- Do what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it—walk the talk.
- Provide the resources and support to achieve agreed-upon goals—don’t get in the way of others doing their jobs.
- Provide recognition and appreciation for successful outcomes.
These words from author Marshall Goldsmith are worth thinking about: “People don’t get better without follow up. So, let’s get better at following up with our people.”