Weekender: Judd Apatow on Micromanagement

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Welcome to another edition of leadersayswhat’s the Weekender, a micro amount of information to start your weekend on the right track. Why just a micro? Because it’s the weekend! Quick note, to help you get a jump on the weekend, the Weekender will be moving to Fridays starting next week.

Micromanagement gets a bad rap. For leaders who are actively engaged in the success of those under their tutelage, delving into the details of the team’s work is a sign of love. So how can we be involved without being overly involved?

In a recent interview on the Fitzdog Radio podcast, famed director Judd Apatow was discussing a lesson he learned from his directorial debut on the Larry Sanders Show:

If you make one tiny adjustment, it should change the entire scene. So you don’t want to give an actor a ton of notes. If you just say to someone, ‘I think you’re a little angrier than that,’ if that’s all you say, it will change every single choice they make in the entire scene. And that was helpful with the cast, to not micromanage them, to give them very specific, very brief notes that would change the color of the scene.

Can you limit yourself to one tiny adjustment? With all of your knowledge, years of experience, and ultimate accountability for the final product, it can be difficult holding back your immense onslaught of guidance and corrections. However, if we hire the right people and sufficiently train them, we should be able to lend helpful tips before stepping back to let them work.

We need to empower, not overpower. Offer suggestions. Explain the ramifications of their current course. But keep it short and let them figure some of it out on their own. It will allow you to remain involved while also emboldening your team to feel ownership for their work.

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