Ironing: Was It A System or Micro-Managing?

My eight year old daughter is home sick from school today and feeling better, so we are getting some work done!   The work is all involved with our house rearrangement.  We are in the process of moving everyone’s bedrooms and my home office.  It’s a complicated move, as it involves moving four rooms filled with furniture and stuff, and removing some carpets.  There are no empty rooms for a staging area!

Anyway, we decided to iron the curtains for her new room.  They were washed and came out very wrinkled.  What a great opportunity to teach ironing.  My idea was I would get her set up and she would iron.  Her idea was that I would get her set up and then we would iron.  That resulted in the first modification in my plan.

We started out with her spraying water and ironing.  I demonstrated the tasks involved and she picked them up quickly.  But she also suggested that she spray her half or area and iron her half or end of the curtain and I do the same on my side.  Teamwork  ironing.  We had built a system.  She would spray,  hand me the spray bottle and start ironing her section while I sprayed.

My challenge as the “manager” or supervisor was to not over-correct or micro-manage her as she learned her task and found better ways to work.  As she evolved with her skills, she had suggestions for changes or improvements in how we worked.

By staying open to the suggestions and ideas, we were able to become more efficient and create a better and better system.  When I stepped in and micro-managed, the creativity was stopped and the interest decreased as well.

I see metaphors all around me.  As we ironed I thought of business and managers.  the urge to do the task yourself or micro-manage those around you is strong.  At least it was for me.  But in stepping back, the system improved, as we both worked together.

What is the impact of micro-management on staff and systems?  I believe that we miss opportunities to improve the system, support and encourage staff, and also to build self esteem and confidence. Wow, and then what is the impact of decreased self esteem, confidence, old systems on our operations?

A simple task ironing, can teach us lessons that we can use both in our lives and in our businesses.

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