The Expectations of the People around you determine how you perform. On the Key to unlocking Micromanagement.
The Expectations of the People around you determine how you perform.
Have you ever worked for a boss that didn’t care? Just nonchalant. Just, you know, whatever? What did that feel like?
If you were a teenager, you thought it was cool. But what if you’re a career-oriented, striving adult? Then what did you think? You probably didn’t like it. You wish they cared. Turns out that caring is underrated as a boss.
What if you had a parent that didn’t expect much out of you? What if they, too, were nonchalant, uncaring, or, at least, there but not present. Always occupied with their own thing. Say, a screen. What then? They never expected much of anything out of you as a kid. How was that? Probably weird. Less than great.
It turns out that the expectations of those surrounding us, those who comprise our context, our environment, matter tremendously. They largely shape our behavior, our actions, our thoughts.
Jim Rohn nailed it: We are the average of the 5 people we hang around the most. 💯
If I’m a manager, and I have low to no expectations for my people, what does that say to them? About me? About how they feel about themselves? What does that say about how they feel about the company they work for? Crappy. That’s what. Duh. 🙄
I once had a manager who, after I turned in an assignment, she threw it away in the trash right in front of me. She did not do this out of spite. She just didn’t even think about it. Like, “Oh, OK. GONE!” Like the work may as well have been a pesky fly buzzing around her office. Just bat it away. Move on with life. If our work means nothing to the boss, what does our work mean to us?
If you don’t set and have high expectations for your people, they will create lackluster results. If you set high expectations for your people — AND LET THEM KNOW you have high expectations of them — they will outperform for you. They will do incredible things for you and the company. They will flourish in their work! Because they know you’re watching them.
Here’s a powerful idea: People do not need micromanaging.
Have you ever worked for the micromanager? The boss who had to know what you were doing and how you were doing it at all times? They always want to check-in with them when you arrive at the office. They question your actions. They come down hard on you when you make a mistake or feel you’re underperforming. They buzz around you like a pesky mosquito, threatening to PIP you. You probably didn’t like that because nobody likes that. Even micromanagers don’t like being micromanaged. The micromanager is the office version of the helicopter parent.
Here’s the key to unlocking micromangement.
(The Key to unlocking the micromanager is to overwhelm them with data and evidence and keen insight while managing up. And then go to work for someone else as fast as you can. Why? Because the Real Trouble with micromanaging is it feels like you’re doing the right thing for your people because it feels like you’re doing everything you can. It is sinister. And worse: infectious.)
It bears repeating: People do not need micromanaging.
As the Great Marcus Buckingham teaches us: People need positive affirmation. They need regular, weekly check-ins. They need to know you’ve got their backs. People need recognition. People need appreciation. People need to know their manager cares. People want professional growth opportunities. Yes, even Millennials who everyone thinks you have to manage differently.
Only you don’t.
Millennials are not a puzzle to be solved.
You set the same high expectations for them as you do the other folks in the org. You treat them exactly the same. Millennials are not a puzzle to be solved. They are people! They are people with hopes, fears, dreams, and wonders. You know: just like the other folks in the org. Millennials are here to make their difference, too! And they are smart! They are driven! They are fierce contributors! Watch them work!
Expectations at home v. Expectations at work.
The funny thing about Expectations is that they work exactly the same at home and at work. If you expect nothing out of your teenager and tell her nothing and let her just be in her room all day long with no human interaction, what kind of kid-to-young-adult are you creating here? Yes — CREATING here!? What do you expect out of her? /Does she know/? Did you, like, you know, TALK to her?! Aw, man, I gotta talk to my teenager…
Same thing at work.
What do you expect out of your people? Do they know? Have you actually told them? Not once. Not twice. Over and over and over again? Not some yearly performance review in some dumb HR web app everybody hates to use and absolutely nobody wants to fill in the textboxes (copy + paste; copy + paste; copy + paste)! Not filling-out forms. How about weekly!? How about LOTS of interaction and a regular checking-in? They need to know you’ve got their back. They need to know you care. Modern day Management is a refrain of positive affirmation and appreciation. It could be a song. (Not the company song, though. Leave that to the IBMers.) We get more of what we acknowledge & affirm in people.
Some managers have a real hard time with this. They say things like, “Well, I don’t tell people I appreciate them. Not my style.” Really? You must be a joy at home, too! Wow. It never ceases to amaze me how little some managers will do for their direct reports. Even a simple act of appreciation and recognition.
Perhaps the irony here is that most of us didn’t set out to become managers of people some day. We didn’t go to school for it. No. Not really. We might have the Big Shot, Muckity-Muck, Top-Down, Corporate-Style, Harvard MBA, but we didn’t think much about managing people some day. Not even at Harvard. It just happened one day. And here we are: Managing people without a clue how to do it properly. Some of us not all that worried about not doing a very good job. Just punch-in; punch-out. Clockwork.
As a Sales & Marketing Pro, I’ve always found it ironic that we take our best sales people and promote them to sales manager, where many of them flail about, wondering why they’re hating it. The skills to be a great sales manager are completely different from the skills to be a great salesperson. We promote them. We give them no training. Give them the keys. Set the goals high. And then we let them go manage people. It is sort of like giving a teenager a loaded handgun with no safety training and only letting him point it at his feet at all times. It becomes the Peter Principle all over again: we promote people to their highest level of incompetence. Worse: when managers are new and they don’t know what to do, they tend to micromanage. Why? Because it feels like they’re doing everything they can to make their team successful. D’oh!
Look, if you flourish in sales, love sales, love the action of sales, love the interaction of sales, love the juice of sales, love the customers you sell to and take care of like they’re your family, THEN DO SALES. Don’t manage! Sales is Awesome! (Don’t I know it and write about it!?) Sales is the organizational life blood. Sales is the oxygen that breathes life into the company. Without us, nobody else is around. The whole enterprise crumbles. Our efforts, our toil, our sweat signs the paychecks. Nobody else’ s does. It isn’t the boss who authorizes your direct deposits — it’s Sales! Without us, there are no direct deposits! We take great pride in that. And if you think what we do is easy, please feel free to come work with us in the field. Leave the building to come and see for yourself.
Managing people is really higher level social skills, essentially the essence of good Leadership. You gotta have the role model mindset or else you’re toast. Have high expectations for your people. Get in the trenches with them on occasion. Go see people with them. Be seen with them. Hell, work-out with them! There’s a great start. Be the model of Excellence you wish to see in your people.