When Micromanaging Isn’t

My husband and I were interested in purchasing aQuestion mark condo when we found out there was a lawsuit against the condo association. We really liked the condo, so we hired an attorney to help us understand the risk. After asking a multitude of questions over the course of several days, our attorney suggested we look elsewhere. “You just won’t be comfortable no matter what,” was his rationale.

He was wrong. All I wanted was to understand the worst case scenarios. And the problem was that I seemed to be the only one generating scenarios! To make matters worse, he didn’t have very good answers to my scenarios.

He decided I just wasn’t going to be comfortable no matter what. I decided he was a lousy attorney. His job is to identify risks, the likelihood and seriousness of those risks, and ways to mitigate those risks. There is no way I should have been the one identifying the most risks!

This situation reminded me of an employee of mine years ago who marched into my office and told me straight out that I was micromanaging him. He based his conclusion on the fact that we’d had several meetings where he proposed design changes to a software product I had originally developed. As with the attorney, I asked questioned and identified risks. Like the attorney, he didn’t have very good answers. Each meeting ended with him returning to the drawing board to develop a better design.

Until the day he accused me of micromanaging and being unwilling to “let go of my baby.” My response was simple, “The day you demonstrate that you know more about this product than I do, will be the day I am not necessary.” In the meantime, what choice did I have?

A good supervisor asks questions to prevent problems. If the answers you get don’t demonstrate a solid understanding of objectives, alternatives, and risks, you aren’t micromanaging, you are preventing disasters!

Need help asking the right questions? Here are a couple of articles to read:

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