Do you excel at providing tasks, parameters, and instructions, but insist on hovering over every part of the process? You could be a micromanager.
Not sure if this is the case? Just ask your staff. If they hesitate or have trouble making eye contact, you may have found your answer. If you ask three follow up questions before they can even take a breath, you definitely have your answer.
The problem with micromanagement is that it doesn’t actually do what you want it to.
In theory, you’re “helping” your team by constantly checking in, providing feedback, and jumping in to do things yourself. But in reality, you’re creating an environment where no one can live up to their full potential. Including you.
Even if you genuinely love your team and have only the best intentions at heart, constant micromanaging can have serious, long-term consequences for your organization.
Key problems with micromanagement include:
Lack of ownership
When staff members aren’t allowed to manage and execute their own projects, they don’t feel like a trusted part of the team. And without trust and autonomy, it’s impossible take ownership of the work.
Constantly following orders and being directed (and re-directed!) leaves people feeling demoralized and unmotivated. Creativity and energy levels will drop as once-excited employees realize their main function is simply to check off boxes. Striving for excellence will be a thing of the past, and mediocre will be the new order of the day.
Decreased growth and creativity
The key to improving processes is recognizing that your way (or the established way) is not always the best way.
This is especially true in today’s lightning-fast workplaces. Focusing on keeping every tiny detail the same from project to project, day to day, and year to year will only stunt individual, team and organizational growth. Releasing yourself from a particular task and your expectations about exactly how it should be done just might result in some amazing new discoveries.
If you’re in a management position, it’s probably because you have some pretty high-level skills and experience. But your talents will be wasted if you choose to spend all of your time checking, re-checking, or taking over other people’s projects.
How many things on your task list aren’t being touched? How many extra hours are you putting in trying to do your own work plus everyone else’s? Not being able to let go not only leaves your team feeling frustrated and less than useful, it greatly increases your risk of burnout. And that’s not good for anyone.
Getting back on track
Being a great manager doesn’t mean breathing over someone’s shoulder. It means giving them (and yourself) some breathing room.
Here are some tips for how to make this happen:
- Provide clear goals but be open to alternative ways to achieve them.
- Demonstrate faith and confidence in your team.
- Resist the urge to constantly pull out your checklist, ask how things are going, and re-do work that has already been done.
- Instead of hovering over your team at every step along the way, set a mid-project meeting to touch base and another one closer to the completion date to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
- Upon completion, celebrate what went well and listen to feedback on what can be improved.
- Hire great people and trust them to do great things.
Your team members are there for a reason. You hired them!
Learn to rely on the people you’ve surrounded yourself with. Trust that you made the right hiring choices and resist the idea that you alone are responsible for results.
When you give your team permission to take ownership of their work, you are also giving yourself permission to concentrate on your own projects and make them the best they can be. Letting go of your micromanaging ways will give you – and everyone else – the freedom to breathe easier, work smarter, and feel like an integral part of the team.
And that’s just good for business.
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