5 ways you can stop being that micro manager that everyone hates

Of all the frustrations in work life, micro management would have to be top of the ‘most complained about’ list.

 So why to people become that thing they detest so much and how do we stop the sneaky little worm from infiltrating our work life? I’ve tried to battle the micro manager and failed.  But I’ve made the decision to not become one so here’s my 5 tips on keeping yourself from becoming the dreaded micro manager.

1.Go to less meetings. 
First of all, I’m very pro meeting and I think face-to-face communication is work and I don’t agree with a lot of the anti meeting sentiment that’s around at the moment. But you don’t need to go to everything and if someone else in your team can go, then let them go. Chill out and be selective about what you do and don’t go to.

2.You don’t need to be cc’d on every email
I see this all the time “can you please cc me on this”. You don’t need to see every email from your team. If you need an update, walk across to the person and ask them for an update. It will clear your workload and that of your team. Also, it can create a parent/child relationship where people don’t take responsibility. Let the emails flow freely without poking your nose in.

3. Brief and walk away
We have a cleaner for our apartment and I always make sure I leave the house when she arrives. Why? Because it’s annoying having someone looking over your shoulder and watching everything you do. Apply the same thinking to your team. Brief them on what needs doing and walk away. Don’t hover and pester. Let them know they can come back to you with any questions. Give time and output deadlines and leave them to get on with it.

4.Play the long game
I once worked at a place where it was a bit of a status symbol if you went up to the ad agency meetings.  People would lobby for why they ‘had’ to be there and tried to put themselves at the centre of big campaigns like the TV ones. I remember one day thinking “”I’m going to work in marketing my whole life and I don’t care if I get to go to the agency or not-I’ll get plenty of opportunity over my career” (which is even more funny now I work for one). Play the long game and let the other silly people jockey for meeting spots.

5. Change from ‘do’mode to ‘teach’ mode
Your job as a manager is to equip other people to do things, not to do everything yourself. I remember writing a press release for a media company and being very nervous about all the top journalists who would see my writing.  The press release was scribbled over and destroyed in red pen by all the executive team –except for one person-the Head of Editorial. He wrote a very polite note in the margin in tasteful, non-threatening pencil and made a small tweak to one paragraph. His was the only feedback that I took and cared about. His respect for my work and empathy as a writer has stayed with me and that’s the kind of manager I want to be.

 It’s tough working with other people and you can’t control everyone but you can make some decisions to control yourself and not become that manager that drove you up the wall. Chill out and play the long game, put people ahead of tasks, get out of everyone’s email and you’ll find you’re a lot happier and less stressed too.

How to stay happy at work building toilet roll forts

When I was 14 I worked at a supermarket packing groceries. 

I was a youth worker on $4.25 an hour (before tax) and made 60 something dollars a week working 4pm until 8pm after school. 

I was rich. 

No I’m serious I thought I was. When you’re a kid living at home with no rent, utilities, car bills or— well any overhead at all- you can actually have quite a good time with 60 bucks and it came in every week. It was pretty great. 

The next peg up the promotional ladder was Checkout Operator but the owner thought I was too dumb and promoted everyone around me and I stayed as a Packer. I know he thought I was too dumb because he said it to my face ‘I think you’ll struggle with the operator training. It’s for the best really.’ So with the door fully closed on my future as a supermarket checkout operator, I was given the most mindless and simple part of the store to take responsibility over- the toilet roll and tissue paper aisle. When the checkouts weren’t busy the idea was the you go and tend to your little plot in the store. I loved it. 

Toilet rolls arrive in the storeroom in massive cardboard boxes. Next time you are at the supermarket ask them if you can go out the back and play in the toilet paper and paper towel deliveries. They won’t let you, but it’s a great time like giant soft Lego. Because I was labelled as a bit thick, it was the best place for me because you can’t break anything and you just build huge forts of paper towels and 36 roll Sorbent toilet paper outers.  Then you make little lists of what’s missing out on the shop floor and load up a stock trolley from your toilet paper fort. 

There are different sizes and colours of tissue boxes, Christmas editions, promotional ticketing and bonus ‘buy 6 get 2 free’ offers. People would ask me for my expert advice on toilet rolls and would tell them what the best deal was that week and show them the new tissue ranges with Penguins on them. Crushed corners on tissue boxes are the worst and you get that when the giant boxes are thrown on to the floor of the storeroom from up in the pallet racking (there’s a pro tip for you next time you buy tissues). I would always retrieve my own tissue outers because there were no crushed corners in my magnificent display.  

Most supermarkets don’t have Packers now and the Checkout Operators have turned into self-serve robot kiosks so I finally get to scan the barcodes myself which was the most coveted part of being an Operator and not a Packer. Sometimes, you’re better off to just roll with the changes on the shop floor, enjoy building paper towel forts and not wait for someone to anoint you as Checkout Operator because there’s probably something better out there for you and you never know-you might still get to have a go with the scanner.