Most of the things I learned about being a good manager I learned from my first Audit Manager, Sue, and first Audit Supervisor, Dave. At the top of the list of things I learned was how important it is to let professionals do their work, how important it is to trust the professionals who work for you, and how important it is allow them to fail (but not too spectacularly) in order for them to learn.
I watched these two exhibit these traits with all their employees (including me) in almost all dealings. Here are two stories (they happen to be about Sue) that I tell to anyone who will listen. They exemplify true empowerment and what it really means to “manage” an employee.
Story 1: Sue walked out on a Thursday and asked the department, “Where’s Tom?” Now, to put this in perspective, you should know that we were a department of six – Sue, Dave, an analyst, and three auditors. We had to remind Sue that, at the beginning of the week, she had sent Tom to Reno to complete the week-long audit of the claims office.
The lesson learned? Assign people the job you know they can do; then forget about them until that job is done. Sue didn’t worry about where we were. She didn’t concern herself about what was being accomplished each and every day. She knew that, once we were assigned a job, it would be completed, and she could worry about other matters.
Story 2: Sue came up to me and asked about an audit I had completed the previous month. I explained what I had done and what the findings were. She asked about a specific test – if I had looked at certain areas and supported it with specific work. I explained to her exactly what I had done and how it supported the opinion. She said, “Good. That’s what I already told Home Office Auditing.”
The lesson learned? Have confidence that the people to whom you assign the work will do the work correctly, whether you’ve seen every step of that work or not.
I have stories about Dave also (and some stories about Dave and Sue that are best told after consumption of large quantities of adult beverages), but these two will suffice to typify the kind of confidence they both showed in their employees.
I was reminded of all this because of last week’s hissy fit about micromanaging
. As you can see, these two people were about as anti-micromanagement as you could hope for. I tell the stories about them because these are exactly the kind of practices I try to exemplify. And, I desperately hope, similar stories are being told about me.
As you may recall, we ended last week’s micromanagement fit with an exoneration for you to do your own micromanaging self-audit. So, let’s go back one more time and revisit it with this question. When it comes to micromanaging, what stories are your employees going to be telling about you?