As anyone who has ever been micromanaged by a supervisor can tell you, its effects can be disastrous. But when it’s undertaken by a leader in a project as important as an ERP implementation, the results can be absolutely fatal . . . at least to the health of the project, that is. When a boss focuses on every minute aspect of a subordinate’s performance, he or she actually destroys confidence, lessens morale and creates an environment of devastating inefficiencies. Perhaps worse still, this type of focus typically means that the boss is failing to take the bigger picture into account, which can have an understandably negative impact on the overall business. Conversely, when employees are given the freedom to make decisions, their inspiration to do better at their work by finding creative solutions and taking calculated risks rises.
A micromanager has a mistaken and even compulsive belief that no one can accomplish anything without his or her input. In an undertaking as vast as implementing a new ERP system, this level of inefficiency can (and will) blow budgets and timelines. Further, a micromanaged environment can be so warped and so hostile that the even the company’s best and brightest will stop performing at top capacity. So what can a boss or even a direct report to a micromanager do to address the situation?
1. First, understand that micromanagement is really an issue of control. As we often say, the implementation of an ERP system can be incredibly stressful for all involved. Team leaders often have ERP implementation results tied directly to their performance reviews, which can ramp up anxiety and create an even greater need for ‘perfection’ and control.
2. Secondly, talk to the person. As a subordinate, it can be incredibly intimidating (and ill-advised) to question a superior’s management skills. Instead, couch the conversation in a way that makes clear that the overall success of the ERP project is the first priority. Ask to institute project checkpoints, such as weekly check-ins, to determine specific goals, tasks and tactics. Make clear that you want to be a valuable asset to the team, and that you are ready to take the next step in terms of accountability. Higher-ups can create these kind of environments as well by being incredibly clear about the importance of the ERP implementation being a team project and determining targets and deliverables at each level. Make sure that staff members know that mistakes will happen and that it’s OK — an ERP implementation is a process and an opportunity for learning and you will all get through it.
3. Then, get some help. Micromanagement is frequently found in people who don’t have confidence in their leadership skills. As part of your organizational change management plan, invest in leadership training initiatives for all of your ERP implementation leads. If you’re not high up enough to suggest this course of action, ask your human resources department to intervene.
Micromanagement is often likened to psychological warfare. Add to that the intensity of an ERP implementation and you’ve got a powder keg waiting to explode. But, as in war, it’s strategies and tactics that will get you ahead regardless of whether you’re a foot soldier or a general. To understand more about the impact that an ERP implementation can have on staff members, search this blog for posts about organizational change management or check out our on-demand webinar, Five Common Organizational Change Management Challenges During ERP Implementations.