No one likes to be micromanaged. The looking over of shoulders, constant progress-check emails, and secrecy about information further up the food chain are stressful. This behavior is also incredibly disheartening and downright annoying for micromanagement.
It’s likely that most managers have been guilty of holding the reins too tightly at some point. To be honest, there are some employees who seem to need constant monitoring and prodding. But most workers are stifled by micromanagement, which, in turn, harms the success of the entire company.
If you want to stop micromanaging your team, you can. Here are five ways to combat micromanagement.
Table of Contents
1. Make Empowerment Comfortable
You know that empowered team members are productive, innovative, and content employees. You also know that micromanaging them is counterintuitive to empowerment. What’s the harm if you let employees have some autonomy?
For many managers, it’s fear of incomplete tasks, deadlines blown, and complete chaos in the office order. It doesn’t have to be that way. With the right technology, you and your team can both get what you want.
Agile project management software can help you put micromanagement in the rearview mirror. It gives team members the power to pace themselves, document progress, and keep one another moving forward. You watch what’s happening via the software rather than hounding individual employees.
Empowering your team doesn’t mean surrendering your leadership role. They still have the responsibility of using project management software to report what they’re doing. It’s just that you are now able to gather the information from a comfortable distance.
2. Delegate, Don’t Relegate
Not everyone is good at delegating. Even good managers and team leaders may struggle with letting go of the control of certain tasks. But that’s precisely the way to the heart of employee engagement.
First, you must decide what responsibilities you can’t delegate, like conducting performance reviews, motivating your team, and communicating the project vision. Make a list of those, then make a list of everything else you can delegate. Fight the urge to control the latter.
Begin delegating tasks to individual employees by playing to their strengths. Make sure you resist the temptation to give them step-by-step instructions because, yes, that’s micromanaging. Give them the long view, the goal, the milestones, and then let them take it from there.
The ability to delegate effectively is a skill, not a inborn talent. Learning how to do it well will make you a better leader. Along the way, you’ll be creating confident, productive, and happy employees.
3. Acknowledge That Nothing is Perfect
Although perfection is a worthy goal to aspire to, it’s not realistic. Nothing is perfect, including you, your employees, and the work that you produce. Acknowledging this fact can be the perfect antidote to the micromanaging urge.
Embracing mistakes and failures is what leads to better outcomes, so don’t squelch creativity. Letting your team know that it’s OK to fail occasionally allows them to be more innovative. The lessons learned from failure will, in the end, create far better results than you might otherwise achieve.
As a manager, you need to allow yourself to fail as well. It will help you feel empathy for your team and make you a more insightful leader. Your employees, in turn, will benefit from your hard-won knowledge. In the words of Warren Buffett, “It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.”
The important lesson is to free yourself from believing perfection is attainable so long as you keep your finger on everything. Everyone should be entitled to a little imperfection.
4. Choose Well
Making good choices is something everyone should strive for. In a leadership role, making them is vital to team success. Choosing to avoid micromanaging is the first good decision you can make.
Choosing well begins with hiring the right people for the jobs you have. You may need to shuffle team members from one role to another to find the right fit. If someone can’t perform in any team role, you may decide to exercise that non-delegable task of letting them go.
Determining which employees you delegate specific responsibilities to is also your role, so do it wisely and intentionally. Although some will fail in their efforts, be careful not to set any of them up to do so. Give team members the resources and overarching guidance they need to succeed while avoiding the tendency to get into the weeds.
We all live with the choices we make. Yours have a crucial impact on the performance of your entire team. Find the right fit for each employee, and their confidence will lead to their success and yours.
5. Shake the Insecurities and the Secrecy
There is an inherent power dynamic in leadership. Managers are entrusted to assert authority over those they manage. They are also entrusted with information from the upper echelons of the corporate hierarchy.
Micromanaging is one way some managers use their power. Those who do may thrive on narcissism, ego-feeding, and ambition. Others may micromanage due to their own insecurities, hoping it covers up perceived or real incompetence.
Keeping information secret from employees is also a power play designed to foster self-importance. Good managers, however, share all relevant, nonrestricted information they’re privy to. Sharing the corporate vision and strategic goals offers rank-and-file employees the transparency they need to understand their contribution to company success.
Micromanaging is simply a power play, and it’s one that isn’t healthy for you, your team, or the company. You have the title and the job description. Use your power for good — to create happy, productive team members — rather than ill.
Take the Micro Out of Management
Beware the signs that you may be micromanaging your team. Your team members may be scared to make decisions, for example, or you find yourself obsessing over details. If you see such signs, use these tips to begin letting that ill-advised management style go. You’ll become a far better manager, and your employees will become a far better team.