Monday, June 7, 2010

Micromanaging is counterproductive

I knew that. But the concept has real-time, instant-feedback, failure-rate statistics from the back of a horse.

How? Look at it from the horse's point of view. If there's somebody sitting on your back fiddling around all the time how the heck are you supposed to know when you're doing the right thing? The answer is, of course, you don't know. Count on two things happening: One, all the fiddling becomes meaningless noise and two, since you never know if what you're doing is right, you're not going to trust the monkey on your back as far as you can throw her.

Some horses will get really cranky in this situation, others get dull, and others become nervous wrecks...uh, sound like people?

Ever work for somebody who micromanages? Live with somebody who does it? Been somebody who does it? Yikes...haven't we all? So, what's the solution?

Do less.

"Do less"? Hey, there are mistakes going on here. I'm supposed to let all that wrong stuff go uncorrected? That doesn't make sense. If I just ignore what's going on how do I get that [fill in the blank] right?

"Doing less" means quit trying to do the job you set up for the horse. Quit holding the horse slow with the reins, quit kicking that inside hind-leg into engagement every stride, quit doing the horse's job. Let him make a mistake. Then correct the mistake, showing him what needs to be done--a "do it this way," correction. The punitive kind of correction only makes the horse afraid to try. Communication is clearer when you show what's expected, keep your expectations reasonable, and then back off. Let the horse do what you asked, and stay aware in case you're needed.

Just like real life with people.

Sure it takes practice...more practice to allow the mistake to happen than it does to stop making them, if truth be told. It's harder to learn not to micromanage than it is to learn a task. This is where the horse is the teacher. Where the student is the teacher. Where the teacher learns to teach.

There you have it. Problem solving, in instant feedback form, from the back of a horse.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susan,

    I need to do less some days! This is a fun post, and I'm going to try to learn from the horse on this one.

    Ann C.