How to be an effective consultant to a micromanager

I do believe that some Western cultures are critical of micromanagement because of the value placed on empowering the individual. Many Eastern cultures allow the leader to manage as s/he wants, because its his/her job to be strong and protect us.

I do not personally hold micro managers in disdain.I have experienced many “high level” US based managers managing abroad who have been screwed royally because they don’t get the details.

This having been said, I have worked with several micro managers who wanted to be “cured” . In this short post, I shall share the strategy I chose in three cases in which I was successful.

British born and US based Ralph approached me because 5 of his 8 direct reports rated him on a company survey very poorly, adding that he was a chronic micro-manager. I interviewed all Ralph’s staff and confirmed the diagnosis. Luckily for me as a consultant, many of Ralph’s direct reports were Dutch and Israeli, who have no problem confronting Ralph’s authority. I told Ralph that every three months for two years, we would meet for a two day offsite during which there would be only one subject-“examples where Ralph has micromanaged”. After three offsites, there was vast improvement, as reported by Ralph’s direct reports.

Farid , an Arab Israeli managing 3 Jewish Israelis and 3 Brits, approached me via his sister who had been in one of my lectures. As is the case in many minority managers, Farid is very very smart and even more ambitious. Yet his top people kept quitting because “he thinks he knows everyone’s job better than they do.” . My guess was that for many reasons, Farid and his direct reports would not engage in open dialogue. So I gave each of his direct reports three red flags. Each flag meant “butt out and let me do my job” (תתעופף ותן  לי לעבוד). Three flags a week (to be given to Farid personally)  were allotted to each direct report. . No dialogue was allowed, just the flag. The change that took place was astounding.

Harry approached me because the CEO told him that he would never get to be CEO because no one liked working for him. “Harry, you are a fucking control freak, get help”. Harry, a very cerebral type, responded well to my intervention which was based on insight. Harry needed to  understand that due to his micromanagement, he has lost control. Once Harry cognitively understood that gaining control by letting go was the counter intuitive path to take, his behaviour slowly changed.

I think it is important for me to disclose that many of micro-managers with whom have worked with have been exceptionally good managers who have achieved stunning results over time.

I also want to disclose that personally I am not only a very bad manager because I am VERY impatient, but I am a chronic incurable micro manager. But I have insight as to why! 🙂

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George swallows a fishing hook

On a fishing expedition

It was warm and sunny; a perfect Tel Aviv spring day last Saturday. George and I went to the beach where he was unleashed and allowed to run free for two hours

As we walked on our 12 kilometer walk, I listened to Radio Swiss Classic and George played with other dogs, took an unauthorized dip in the cold Mediterranean and feasted on pitta, kebab, steak bones and what have you left behind by the night crowd before the cleaning squads had arrived.

After two hours, George and I headed home. At the first stop light, I noticed a fishing line hanging from his mouth. I thought it was just stuck in his teeth so I opened his mouth and saw it was not attached to his teeth. I gave a pull and nothing happened. George felt no pain at all; he was wagging his tail and licking my hand.

I was worried sick however. I drove to  the vet, Dr Yuval, whose clinic is open  and fully staffed on Saturdays. Dr Yael, the duty veterinarian, made several efforts to extract the line and when that failed, she took an X-ray. “It’s not good. He needs urgent surgery. I will call Dr Yuval to come in to operate. It will take time. He is up north”.

Dr Yuval was tending to his vineyard in Zichron, which is an hours drive from the clinic. Within 40 minutes, Yuval ran in, and George was put under the knife to extract the fishing hook from the muscle where his esophagus meets his intestine. The surgery took a long time. And I watched it on a monitor, feeling that I just cannot let him go though this without me being as close as I can.

Under the knife-George’s stomach

I was terribly  upset before during and after this incident. I also felt guilty for unleashing George and trying to pull out the fishing line.I told myself  that I wish that  this was happening to me and not to George.

“Go home and come back at 9 pm (in 7 hours)”, I was told.

Take me home

As directed I returned to the clinic, shaking like a leaf. George pulled himself to his feet, although he was certainly not wagging his tail. That’s for sure.

After a course of antibiotics, tender loving care, half a chicken a day and a few pain killers, George has fully recovered, playing Frisbee, having great sex with his favourite  pillow and begging me to replace his dog food with yet another roasted chicken.

Thanks to Dr Yuval and Dr Yael.

אין כמוכם

Back to normal

 

 

 

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