Is there a micromanager in your midst?

February 1, 2009

A finely-tuned organization depends on being well-managed, and a urology practice is no exception.

Unfortunately, some well-intended managers and physicians compromise business performance by micromanaging. Micromanagement is guaranteed to kill staff spirit, limit productivity, and erode profits. This article will help you uncover telltale signs of micromanagement and turn this behavior around.

Telltale signs

Checking others' work. Managers who see themselves as perfectionists often become too critical of staff's work and are unhappy with outcomes. It seems no matter what staff does, it is not good enough. There is a tendency to look over a staffer's shoulder and provide unsolicited assistance-often a manager's attempt to get the job done his or her way. It's guaranteed to frustrate staff.

Requiring approval for making most decisions. When staff must seek the approval of the physician or manager for mundane tasks, micromanagement is the offender. Things easily handled are postponed while awaiting approval, customer service is likely to suffer, and the manager ends up getting bogged down with small responsibilities that do not require his expertise.

If the manager's desk is piled with things that need attention and deadlines are not met, it is likely that he has a problem with prioritizing, organization, or micromanaging.

Micromanagement results in staff feeling that no matter what they do, it won't be good enough. This intimidates staff and they don't feel trusted. They start playing it safe by doing the minimum required to get the job done without taking risks or being challenged. This does not stimulate performance or professional growth. It creates an unhealthy work environment that will cause morale, productivity, and customer service to plummet. In the end, it will impede loyalty to the practice, and some of the most dedicated and skilled staff members are likely to move on.

Turning it around

It takes a commitment to change the micromanager's behavior and to learn how to let go and give staff the freedom to do their best.

Start by examining the benefits that will be gained when these patterns are shed. Both management and staff will have a better chance to succeed and will bring innovation and improved outcomes to the practice. The practice will become a far more enjoyable workplace that stimulates growth and camaraderie.

Inevitably, this will have a significant impact on how well patients are served. Staff will be more attentive, recognizing when a patient needs a little more reassurance or assistance.

The micromanager is a victim of his own habits, and changing those behaviors can only begin when they are recognized and he makes a concerted effort to change. Initially, there may be difficulty with relinquishing control, either due to a lack of confidence in the individual or a sense that the job won't be done right. This can be the result of assigning tasks without forethought. If Mandy is given a vague request to do something or the request is made when she is preoccupied, the assignment may seem unclear or insignificant, and may be put aside and forgotten.

Micromanagers need to build their confidence in staff and give them the confidence to succeed by giving close attention to how tasks are delegated.

Assign tasks with caution and go through these rules of delegation:

Once the micromanager stops micromanaging, he will learn to give staff the flexibility to get more work done and stimulate independent thinking and professional growth. Within a short time, trust will be built and confidence restored. Work becomes more fun and challenging, and that's a good thing.

Ending micromanagement results in higher levels of productivity, improved morale, and a loyal team that stays with the practice.

Judy Capko is a health care consultant and the author of Secrets of the Best Run Practices. She can be reached at 805-499-9203 or judy@capko.com
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