As a manager, have you recently complained about the amount of work you have? Have you been called a control freak? Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? If so, chances are you might be micromanaging your employees.
A quick Google search will tell you that micromanagement involves “closely observing or monitoring the work of subordinates or employees.” Doing so not only refrains your employees from making their own decisions but also makes them inefficient in the long run. This, in turn, leads to them seeking the supervisor’s attention and approval for the smallest of issues. Micromanaging also hinders the creative inputs that your employees can give you.
The following approaches can help you stop micromanaging and be a better leader:
Question your behaviour
The first step to get out of the habit is to understand what is making you micromanage. Author of HBR Guide to Office Politics, Karen Dillon, says that micromanagement could possibly be a result of your insecurities. You may be afraid that a job not done perfectly will reflect poorly on you, or you’re worried others may think you aren’t in control if you’re unaware of the details.
Ask yourself what excuses you are using to micromanage. Do you think you’ll save time if you get involved in everything? Or, are you afraid too many things will go wrong if you leave it to your team to manage? Now, focus on those reasons and deal with them for the micromanaging to stop. List out the disadvantages your team and you will face if this continues.
Prioritise what matters and delegate tasks
Make a list of things that your subordinates can do and what needs to be done by you. A good leader always delegates responsibilities to their subordinates. Train your employees so they can take up responsibilities. Identify each employee’s potential and delegate tasks accordingly. Monitor how these tasks are progressing, but stop yourself from getting too involved. Delegating whole tasks, instead of parts of them, often enhances the performance of an employee and the team as a whole.
No matter how important the project is, you can’t take on everything. Keep the critical responsibilities like strategic planning and contacting the clients to yourself and delegate the rest.
Get to know your team
Talk about how you can help your team solve problems and how you can support them. While it is wise to keep a close eye on their tasks, especially if an employee is new or inexperienced and can’t be trusted completely, you can do so without immersing yourself in their work. Give constant feedback to all your subordinates and coach them. Find each one’s strengths and weaknesses, know what they are comfortable with, and determine how much time you can allow for each of them to get their tasks done. Do not over-correct by pulling away too much; instead, give appropriate support, suggests Karen.
Trust your employees and gain their trust
You have to understand and accept that there are employees who can do a certain task better than you can. If they do well, appreciate their performance. This encourages them to keep doing better, and it builds their trust in you as their leader. Give them the growth opportunity, and tell them that you believe that they can rise up to the job requirements. This adds to the overall confidence and happiness of the employees. It’s also important to let them do their work and avoid back-pedalling and making changes to everything they do.
Know that you can’t step away at once
It can be hard to pull away from the habit of scrutinising every detail; allow yourself considerable time to do so. If you can’t delegate a major project, start with a task that is less urgent or do a test run. Determine if the team does well in your absence. Take some outside help from a trusted co-worker and ask them how the project is shaping up. If the response is in the positive, you’ve nothing to worry about; otherwise, find ways to stay in touch with the project in a way that doesn’t require you peering over your team’s shoulders all the time.
To stop micromanaging doesn’t mean you should be a no-show and not get involved at all. To be the best leader you can be, you should work smarter, not harder. Have confidence in the people you have hired.