My Thoughts on Micromanagement

When I moved to the UK a little over two years ago, I never understood why, when discussing my move from Canada to the UK to taxi drivers, coworkers, or people I’d meet on a night out, I’d get a comment like “Why would you move to the UK to teach?! You could go anywhere, and Canada is beautiful!” While I acknowledged that yes, my homeland is beautiful, my typical response would usually be comprised of a list of reasons, like “Well, it’s close to Europe” (lots of opportunity to travel), “It’s an interesting change for me”, “The job opportunities in Ontario are non-existent”, or something along those lines.

Well, it’s been two years, and I finally understand their bewilderment.

I should start by first saying that my opinions have been formed from a mix of my own experiences as a teacher (both in Canada and UK), those of my colleagues, and a reflection of the various articles and blogs regarding micromanagement in the workplace. Of course, this blog post is just that – my opinion. Not a rant, not a hate post, but just some thoughts that have been drifting in and out of my head for a little while now – most of which are beginning to stick.

I recently watched a TED talk by Dan Pink called The puzzle of motivation which discussed how traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Near the end, he outlines the three building blocks that are crucial for people to begin seeing tasks and outcomes in a new, more meaningful way – autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Although he only discusses autonomy in his talk, a lot of what he said really got me thinking…

Have we lost our autonomy?

With an increasing number of teachers citing workload as being the top factor influencing their decision to leave the profession, why is it that management still thinks it’s their place to tell us how to structure our time to cope with our workload? I can appreciate management/SLT wanting to make sure that our never-ending workload is managed effectively, but when does it become too much? Perhaps it’s a bit bold of me to suggest that teachers are the ones who should be structuring their time during the school day the way that best suits us and our workloads.

For example, imagine you’ve taught the input of a lesson, and your HLTA is now taking the lead in overseeing the activities. He or she is settled with a small group of children, ready to get them started and guide them along. Things are under control – if any disruption occurs, the HLTA is adequately trained to handle it, and you’ve got 30-45 minutes remaining in the lesson. What might you do with your time? Catch up on marking books (if they aren’t being used)? Chase up a parent via phone call to have a quick chat about their child’s recent behaviour? Work with a small group of children? Fill in assessment forms for your SEN children?

My main point here is: Do we still have a choice? Or has our ability to choose what to do with our time, based on everything that needs to get done, being micromanaged too far?

What have your experiences been regarding micromanagement?
Please do let me know what you think in the comments below.


3 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Micromanagement”

  1. Even the way all our different folders are structured is dictated from on high. I think one of the problems, apart from the relentless waves of ‘initiatives’ that SLT like to push our way, is that managers have this obsession with Ofsted apparently wanting ‘continuity’ of practice throughout the whole school.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I see the irony of those who try to help teachers manage workload introducing restrictions which, while designed to support, actually make it MORE difficult to use your time flexibly. I always feel this when I read email protocols which try to dictate when emails should be read, or sent, or rules about when teachers should enter or leave the building. I think that teachers have to be able to work out a system that makes best use of their time and enables them to try to find balance between the personal and the professional. Others can help by focussing on ensuring their demands are, as far as possible, reasonable and realistic.

    Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

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