Just read a great post by Steven Sinovsky in his “Learning by Shipping” blog, which he started, just after he left MS. This is one of his few rare concise posts. He has a ton of experience and fantastic in-depth into software management, but some of his posts just run too long. I liked this one.
The problem is clearly stated in the words of a first year MBA student:
High-performing people generally want autonomy to get things done without anyone micromanaging them. At the same time, as a midlevel manager, I’ve often had someone above me who’s holding me accountable for whatever my direct reports are working on.
I’m struggling to find the right balance between giving people their autonomy while also asking sufficient questions to get the detail I need in order to feel comfortable with how things are going.
And Steve provides 5 tips to find the right balance between delegating vs micro-managing.
- Delegate the problem, don’t solve it.
- Share experiences, don’t instruct.
- Listen to progress, don’t review it.
- Provide feedback, don’t course correct.
- Communicate serendipitously, don’t impede progress.
I mostly agree with all of them. My favourites (which I try and practice as much as possible) are (2) and (5). I am a big believer in Management by Walking Around (for middle managers atleast). It is so much more productive for the manager and the team.
Maybe sometime later, I will write up something myself on what I feel one can do to find the middle ground. But for now, you can read the full article here.