Being a hands-on IT manager is good for you, and good for your team. The hands-on approach ensures that you’re aware of how projects are progressing, how your employees are performing as individuals and as a team, and whether you’re on track to meet deadlines. Hands-on management allows you to be involved without demoralizing your team, and enables you to address potential issues proactively, before they become serious problems.
But there’s a fine line between hands-on IT management and micromanaging. Take over too much of the process yourself, and you’ll have the opposite effect: slowed progress, reduced productivity, and gutter-level team morale. Micromanagers dictate instead of delegate, and rob themselves of their most powerful resource — their team.
The differences between micromanaging and hands-on leadership
A good manager will be heavily involved in making desired outcomes clear, checking in on staff progress, and reviewing projects after completion to find lessons that can be applied to the next project. A micromanager will be overly involved, to the point where team members feel they’re not allowed to make decisions or take responsibility — and they’ll never learn or grow from the experience.
Here are some specific differences between micromanagers and hands-on managers:
- Hands-on managers communicate expectations clearly; micromanagers dictate how expectations will be met
- Hands-on managers offer feedback and ask team members to redo work that isn’t quite right; micromanagers redo tasks themselves
- Hands-on managers place the responsibility for projects on employees and expect their best efforts; micromanagers assign work task-by-task and retain responsibility for the project themselves
- Hands-on managers ask for representative samples of the work to review; micromanagers insist on reviewing every email and being present at every meeting
- Hands-on managers adjust their approach to managing employees of varying skill levels and projects of varying importance; micromanagers are uniform in managing every aspect of employees and projects, regardless of skill level or importance
How to implement a hands-on approach
How can you strike the right balance in a hands-on approach to management, without crossing the line into micromanaging? The first step is to make sure you and your team are on the same page, by clearly conveying goals and objectives that paint a picture of what success looks like. This paves the way for handing off responsibility to your team, so you can step back and measure the progress.
Once you’ve developed an effective strategy for clear communication:
- Spend less time doing, and more guiding: If your expectations have been clear, you won’t have to monitor every detail of your team’s progress. Instead, spend your time serving as a resource, offering guidance as needed to keep everyone on track.
- Check in regularly: Make time to touch base with your team, both collectively and individually, to review their progress and results to date. Offer constructive feedback and go over current project priorities, making adjustments as needed to keep things running smoothly.
- Be forthright about concerns: If an employee is not meeting expectations, or work is not progressing the way it should, take a proactive stance and address the issue right away — rather than waiting to see if it will work out, or taking over an aspect of the project yourself. Whether the issue requires simple feedback, or reconsidering the fit of a team member to a current role, resolve the problem quickly so the project continues to progress.
As an IT manager, your job involves getting the results you need, both short-term and over time. A hands-on management style will help you monitor your team’s progress without meddling, and empower them to generate the right results.
Want help becoming a hands-on manager, or getting away from micromanagement? Contact The Armada Group today!