We can now print full-sized homes, use AR for surgeries, tap into predictive analytics to find the best employees, and yet some managers still use the industrial age type of managing their employees.
In other words, they still prefer to control the way employees do their jobs—also known as Helicopter Management. Others refer to it as micromanagement and over-management.
The terminology differs but the outcome is consistently clear: it is ruining businesses.
Employee disengagement is one of its detrimental aftereffects. It can cost a $600,000 loss per year. A high turnover rate is another. To put it simply, the best employees leave.
These are employees who, as Simon Sinek puts it, believe what you believe, and will work for you with blood, sweat, and tears to help you reach your goal.
Don’t worry. There are helpful steps to prevent helicopter management from ruining your business, and it starts with self-assessment.
Do routine self-checks
It is particularly helpful to have your managers do routine self-checks to look for biases they may have. We all have it, and at certain times, they can be helpful; oftentimes, they are damaging.
If the manager is always giving an employee poor feedback, it may not always be because of the employee’s competency. It could be that the manager is suffering from a Set-Up-To-Fail Syndrome whereby the manager believes that the employee is incompetent. By having that type of bias, the manager creates an environment for that particular employee to fail…all the time.
Mistakes are okay
Create a workplace environment where mistakes are seen for what they are: a necessary factor for success. It’s also an important part of the learning process.
Let’s be clear: you don’t have to celebrate your employees’ mistakes nor encourage them to do so. The point is to provide a safe place for them to admit if they’ve done something wrong, not to be shamed because of it, and not have the managers constantly breathing down their necks, waiting for an oops moment.
Hire the right people
It’s not just about having the right job-skill match or years of experience or the right education. Self-discipline, humility, and professional will are just as important.
Self-discipline removes not just helicopter managing but workplace bureaucracy as well. We get it, any job applicant can say that they have self-disciplined, proving it is a different thing. It will take some time but once you know that he or she embodies it, you don’t need to constantly check if the person’s doing his or her job or tell them what to do.
Employees who are naturally humble will seek help and guidance when necessary. They will come to you willingly.
And of course, if you know that your employees have the willpower to do whatever it takes to hit the company’s bottom line, micromanaging becomes unnecessary.
Create an anti-Helicopter Management policy
Verbal guidelines are good, but what will initiate true action are written policies. If you’re serious about creating a good company and keeping the right people (the ones who will help you tremendously), an anti-Helicopter Management policy is necessary.
It doesn’t have to be long; it just needs to be meaningful. You can start by conducting a survey. Ask your employees what they think about micromanagement and if it’s currently happening to them, what change they want to see.
Closely managing employees is helpful in the beginning, when an employee is new. It’ll help the employee easily adapt to the company’s procedures, policies, and it’s a good way to see if he or she is really capable of the job at hand, too.
But after a while, managers should allow direct reports to do what they’re hired to do. It makes employees more productive, less stressed out, improves confidence and boosts trust in the company—all of which are key components in helping the company move upward.