Friday, April 15, 2011

Micro-managers hurt performance...

A micro-manager is like a parent who forbids their child learn bicycle riding, because they might get hurt. And that child, lacking the experience to know how to ride a bike, risks getting severely hurt if they should ever hop on a two-wheeler. Versus the parent who lets the child learn (and fall off a few times), until they are a solid and strong bicycle rider. Giving a child, or an employee, that freedom creates a stronger performance.

This great article explains that micromanaging hurts performance by reducing an employee's ability to experiment and learn.

Three professors from Rice University and Harvard Business School examined the performance of "hosts" at six MGM-Mirage Group hotel/casinos -- hosts are suppose to give high-rollers comps (free hotel rooms, discounts, show tickets, etc.). These casinos keep careful track of high-roller data, and they know the amount a high-roller usually spends -- they give the 40 percent comp on the amount the high-roller is expected to spend, whether or not they actually spend that amount on any particular trip.

Hosts which were micromanged performed worst -- they gave away the wrong amount of comps. The opposite of what you'd expect from the "I'm watching you" approach their managers took. Why? Because they were so closely watched, they were afraid to take any risks or experiment, resulting in a lack of understanding of the process of comping. They didn't learn from mistakes, because they weren't allowed to make any. So ironically, they ended up making more mistakes.

Those hosts which were given freedom to experiment failed faster, quickly learning the right balance that resulted in the perfect 40 percent comp give-away.

By controlling these host employees too much, the managers prevented them from learning.

It's also a concept in parenting. To let your kids have structure, support, safety and love, but to also allow the freedom to be who they are, to learn and grow through experience.

This is really about giving others the freedom to be human. And to succeed in the ways we're meant to. Controlling others does not result in anything good except for a power-trip for the controller. Know anyone like that? I bet you do. Don't be that person.

So empower your people to fail faster, learn, experiment, and master their jobs. That requires support and structure, but also a certain degree of independence.

Give your employees this power. Don't smother your people, or your reduce performance (and profits of course).

P.S.
This is a similar concept to what I use in my life coaching sessions -- allowing clients freedom to learn and grow: to remove barriers, to not fear results, but to act. The action gets results, which can then be tweaked. Step by step, removing these barriers to success results in great performance by learning.
Fail faster, learn faster, and succeed faster.

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