Why Micromanaging Doesn’t Work
Unless your goal is to dishearten your employees, don’t harp on the small stuff
Last week, I had the pleasure of having a twenty-minute discussion with my supervisor about the proper way to talk to people. This coaching session was the result of a monitored call, which was dissected and graded by someone following a rigid code of bullet points and oft-repeated company expectations that are not always easily crammed into real-life conversations.
As I listened to the supervisor drone on about “making a connection with the customer” and other obvious expectations, I couldn’t help but think about all the hard work I put into obtaining my Master’s degree and performing my job these past twelve years at my current employer.
It’s amazing that despite being one of the best performing employees over the past decade that I am consistently treated with less respect than I was given while working a minimum wage retail job as a teenager, where I was never once told exactly how to talk to people.
I know how to talk to people and not to toot my own horn, but I’m quite good at it. In fact, this call that was in question started with the customer calling in and being immediately upset that she had not been seen the previous day (when I happened to be off and had not even been assigned to her case).
I intentionally yet very politely truncated the call, as I assured the customer that I would make it a priority to drop what I was doing and drive out to assist her as she was requesting.
By the time I left her residence an hour or so later, she was very pleased with the customer service that I provided. So, then what was the problem, you might ask? Well, there were a few talking points that I failed to hit on on the recorded call.
This was done intentionally because it did not seem appropriate with the customer being upset and also under a time constraint as she had an appointment to get to.
If you’re a logical person, you would look at this interaction and see that I did what was necessary to turn a difficult situation around and make the customer happy. However, as we all know, middle management has no use for logic.
The amount of time I had to waste listening to the breakdown of the call monitor as interpreted by my supervisor was enough to drive a person mad. It’s moments like that where you just think, “Is this really what my life has come to?”
I was recently named employee of the year for my department, yet I couldn’t be trusted to perform a basic function like talking to people? I’d hate to hear the things that lower-rated employees have to endure during these coaching sessions.
The resources that are spent dissecting these minuscule things and breaking down moments that don’t need to be analyzed are mind-boggling. We spend almost as much time scrutinizing our work — at the behest of middle management — as we spend actually doing the job.
We joke around and roll our eyes at the incessant micromanaging, but it’s no joke. It doesn’t make anyone better at what they do, but it does pile on loads of unnecessary stress.
I have many former co-workers who couldn’t take it and ended up quitting. Some just couldn’t deal with the psychological damage, while others suffered from more serious health-related consequences brought on by the abundant stress.
One guy I know was so stressed that he blacked out while driving and crashed his car. I don’t think that this is what companies are going for when they become hyper-focused on every little detail of employee output, but it’s what they get, and it’s time that they start to be called out for allowing this to take place.
If these never-ending coaching sessions did any good, then after a certain point, the employees who have heard the same thing hundreds of times would be perfect workers and no longer in need of micromanaging.
It’s as if many of these practices exist solely to justify the existence of certain positions that are purported to challenge employees to be better — but do they?
Call monitors are always going to find things to nitpick on phone calls. Re-inspectors are always going to find items that are not perfect in our files.
Every call that I’ve ever been downgraded on has been a result of a circumstance that is usually unique and unaccounted for in the grading of the call. No amount of coaching or dissecting the proper way to do things will ever ensure that all my future calls will be perfect, so why do we make such a big deal out of every little detail?
No matter the job, you should have the ability to reach a point where you are told, “Good job. Keep up the good work.”
If employees aren’t able to reach a point where they are trusted to perform at a high level without their small imperfections being magnified, then there is something seriously wrong with the job.
What is the point of stressing people out unnecessarily when they are doing the job as well as can be expected? Why would a company want to churn and burn through a local workforce while racking up a reputation of being a difficult place to work? There has to be a better way.
Yes, all jobs have expectations and things that are important to be done properly, but not everything needs to have the same level of scrutiny, and not everything needs to be broken down as if it were a game-changing play of a championship game.
Some things are just going to happen, and looking too often at the small picture doesn’t do any good for the employee or the employer.
After the tumult of the past year, many people are going to be taking a hard look at their employers and considering if their job is worth the aggravation. Life is short. Do you really want to spend yours being told things like how to talk to people?