The Unwritten Rules


Micromanaging Leads to A Negative Reputation and Fewer New Opportunities within Organizations; Micromanagers Should Switch That Energy to Adopting the Discipline to Delegate Effectively, According to John Beeson, Succession Planning and Organizational Development Expert

NEW YORK (July 7, 2010) – Managers who are perceived by their troops as meddlesome micromanagers are probably, in turn, viewed by senior executives as not having the bandwidth to step up to higher level positions and handle greater responsibilities.

The only way that this kind of manager can get “unstuck” and truly become a leader is to take some hard steps to learn how to delegate and make sure matters don’t fall through the cracks, according John Beeson, a succession planning and organizational development expert who’s principal of Beeson Consulting and author of the forthcoming Unwritten Rules: The Six Skill You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level (Jossey-Bass, fall 2010).

“A micromanager sends out danger signals to his or her company’s senior management that he or she would be overwhelmed at higher levels of responsibility and has little time to spend on executive-level tasks like shaping strategy or innovation. In other words, senior executive who make C-suite level promotional decisions for their companies look for managers who know how to ensure implementation without getting too involved in the details at too low a level,” Mr. Beeson says.

He adds, “Too many mangers have either an ‘on’ switch or an ‘off’ switch when it comes to delegation. That is, they either tend to delegate everything with little follow-up or they try to tightly control the work of each subordinate.”

Mr. Beeson is available to discuss ways managers at either end of this spectrum can achieve the right level of delegation – and thereby dramatically increase their chances of moving up the ladder to positions of greater responsibility within their companies. During a conversation, he can address the imperatives for getting it right, for example:

Knowing the activities one really needs to be centrally involved in. “You have to look at issues most critical to the organization’s success and where you can add the greatest value. Then it’s important be aggressive in identifying opportunities to delegate responsibility for tasks and issues that are less vital,” he says.

Grasping and understanding the capabilities of each staff member. “Who are the staff members most capable of taking on independent responsibility for certain tasks and decisions? Those are the ones you want to stretch to take on more,” he says. “For those staff ready to take on more independent responsibility, focus your communications with them on what is to be accomplished and why the task is important. But leave the ‘how’ of the task – how it will get done – to that person. Let staff members know their degree of freedom to make decisions and the criteria you’ll use to evaluate their work.”

Finding ways to reinforce implementation while also reducing day-to-day involvement. “Work with your team to create metrics that help focus people’s attention on key priorities. Also, consider deputizing one of your staff members to follow up on your behalf to make sure implementation is on course and that team members are communicating with each other,” Mr. Beeson says.

Establishing a plan to delegate more each year. “You need to internalize the fact that for your team to increase its performance – and for you to continue to focus on the most critical issues and position yourself as C-Suite material – the team’s overall capability to execute must increase each year. What this really means is that each team member needs to get better at operating independently and that you also have to keep bringing in stronger team members,” he says.

“Here’s the big picture if you’re a micromanager who wants to break out of the cycle – and into the next stages of your career: Strengthen your team’s capability and put in place the reinforcers that ensure predictable implementation within your area. In the process you’ll demonstrate your bandwidth to take on increased responsibility,” Mr. Beeson says.

To schedule a conversation with John Beeson or for more information, please contact Frank Lentini of Sommerfield Communications at 212-255-8386 or

About Beeson Consulting, Inc.

Founded in 1998, Beeson Consulting provides management consulting services to some of the largest, most respected companies in the world. Services include succession planning, top-talent development, executive assessment, organization design and executive coaching. For each client, the firm brings to bear best-practice expertise; practical, action-oriented solutions; and a consultative, customized approach. All Beeson consultants have a combination of corporate and consulting experience.

Learn more about Beeson Consulting, Inc.

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