Former IT manager Eric Bloom, president of Manager Mechanics, a management training firm, saw leadership potential in one of his senior programmers. So he assigned her to work with an intern.
It didn't work out. The programmer micromanaged, and both parties were unhappy.
Many managers, particularly new ones, go through the same experience. They have a hard time letting others take over and perform tasks in their own style. Instead, they remain overly involved in day-to-day details. The results are demoralised staff, overworked managers and poorly executed tasks.
"I don't see any benefit in micromanaging whatsoever," says Mal Griffin, CIO of Canada's Interior Health Authority. "Individuals hate it, and they're not going to excel because they're always going to be looking over their shoulders."
To avoid that trap, IT managers need to give workers the freedom to make their own decisions while still being available to monitor progress and offer help when it's needed.
Achieving that balance, Griffin says, is the real challenge of being a good delegator.
He and others say there's no single formula for achieving the right balance, other than the need to beware of the micromanagement trap. Griffin says to ask yourself, "Would I want someone managing me the way I'm managing others?"