Author Topic: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging  (Read 2947 times)

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Just Lori

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How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« on: March 19, 2012, 07:42:57 AM »
I work for a youth sports club that uses many volunteers.  I have a part-time paid administrative position, and earlier this year the club hired another woman, Amy, to oversee the club on a full time basis.

Amy is an incredible person.  She is on top of things.  She does the work of three people.  She is a model of efficiency.  However, she also likes to micromanage everything.  If someone is doing something and she thinks her way is more efficient, she'll swoop in and either do it for them or tell them to do it her way.  This doesn't always sit well with the volunteers, who are capable adults and extremely valuable to the organization.

I like Amy.  I like our volunteers.  I know our volunteers are becoming frustrated with the micromanagement.  I'd like to address this with Amy, before the volunteers resign in protest.  Granted, I agree that her way is often a better way.  But I also think she needs to pick her battles and give the volunteers a little more freedom, even if it means that a few things won't fall into step with her system. Edited to add that the work will still be done if she steps back a bit, and it won't affect the big picture in the end. 

Any suggestions on how to address this gently and politely?
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 07:45:12 AM by Just Lori »

bopper

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Re: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2012, 09:47:11 AM »
"Amy, I wanted to talk to you about some feedback I have been getting from the volunteers.
Since you have came here, you have been  on top of things and the model of efficiency. Now that is a good thing, unless you take it to excess. Sometimes you have thought of a more efficient way to do a task, and then you have done for the volunteer or told them to do it a new way.  Now we are not saying that we shouldn't learn new ways, but we are respectfully requesting that you pick your battles and give the volunteers a little more freedom because we are turning off volunteers.  When you take over their work, it makes them feel like they are not valuable and perhaps not needed.  I am sure that is not what you intended at all! But I am hearing enough grumbling that  I think this needs to be addressed before we have mass resignations.
Let's brainstorm ways that we could perhaps more gradually introduce some changes but while getting the volunteer buy-in to the new method."

rashea

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Re: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2012, 10:10:16 AM »
I think it's worth pointing out to her that volunteers means that you aren't paying for their time, so it's okay if it takes them a bit longer. Maybe have her count the number of times she tells someone else how to do something over the course of a day. It's really hard to keep going if you feel like you're being criticized.
"Manners change, principles don't. It's about treating people with consideration, respect and honesty." Peter Post

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camlan

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Re: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2012, 10:47:09 AM »
If Amy's way really is better, then why doesn't Amy train everyone in her new, improved methods, instead of swooping down on people when they are in the middle of doing things? They won't remember her new methods and will probably feel embarrassed about being corrected in front of a patron.

So I'd address the issue on a couple of fronts. Not correcting the volunteers in front of people--I know I'd quit if I was doing something correctly, but had an supervisor "correcting" me where others could hear.

Then address the training issue--if Amy really wants people to do things her way, forms need to be altered, instructions rewritten and the entire staff, volunteer and paid, need to be re-trained.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


JoyinVirginia

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Re: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2012, 02:22:33 PM »
Amy, our volunteers are like gold. They are treasures, and we want them to feel appreciated. Sometimes if you jump in and take over a task, I know you are trying to help the volunteer, but for some who may have been here a while like Mrs Jones or Mr Smith, they may feel like you don't trust them or don't feel they can do the job. If they get frustrated enough, they might leave and go to another organization. I don't want them to leave.what can we do?

NyaChan

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Re: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2012, 02:25:58 PM »
I think the way you address it depends on the relationship of your job to hers - are you her supervisor, equal, or subordinate? 

Just Lori

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Re: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012, 11:05:52 PM »
I think the way you address it depends on the relationship of your job to hers - are you her supervisor, equal, or subordinate?

I guess I should have been clearer.  I do not report to Amy, but she is higher level than I am.  We are a very informal group, so there's no chain of command.  But Amy definitely carries more responsibliity than I do.  I like her a lot, but I also like our volunteers and want to keep everyone happy.

WhiteTigerCub

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Re: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2012, 12:21:43 PM »
"Don't worry about it, trust that they will get the job done well."  *big smile* 

Arizona

weschicky

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Re: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2012, 04:56:28 PM »
"Don't worry about it, trust that they will get the job done well."  *big smile*

POD.  Although in my world, this approach is too subtle and has yet to work.

I also second the suggestions about training.  Maybe you don't have to say anything to Amy beyond something like "you do things so efficiently.  Maybe you can train the volunteers on a good way to get the baseballs stitched/basketballs inflated/cleats tied, and that would let them work without your supervision and free you up to spend more time on tasks where you can really put your talents to use, like polishing the gym floor/reweaving basketball nets/filling out your bracket."

A little flattery never hurt anyone.

Traveler2

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Re: How to gently tell someone to stop micromanaging
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2012, 02:51:10 AM »
Amy, our volunteers are like gold. They are treasures, and we want them to feel appreciated. Sometimes if you jump in and take over a task, I know you are trying to help the volunteer, but for some who may have been here a while like Mrs Jones or Mr Smith, they may feel like you don't trust them or don't feel they can do the job. If they get frustrated enough, they might leave and go to another organization. I don't want them to leave.what can we do?

I really like this one. I would also consider talking with her about the value of volunteers to your organization as a whole.  Something like "Amy, the way you do things is almost always faster or more efficient. But, our group NEEDS volunteers, and for volunteers to stay, they need to feel that their INPUT is valued as well as their hands. Can we talk about which jobs must be done a specific way, and which jobs aren't really affected by how they are done? And let the volunteers have freedom and flexibility in those?"

Then address the training issue--if Amy really wants people to do things her way, forms need to be altered, instructions rewritten and the entire staff, volunteer and paid, need to be re-trained.

Also this. There may be some things where the end result IS affected by how the work is done, and these should have very clear and explicit instructions. She can even enlist the volunteers to help with this process, by typing up instructions, and asking someone (or a few) to "test" the instructions for her to make sure they are clear and understandable. Then they are working together to make sure Amy's process is understood.

But, I hope she can be open to the ideas of the volunteers as well. IMO, one of the many values to having volunteers participate in an organization is not just to get help, but to increase the ideas that will help the organization.