Micromanagement is not quite the new term, but if you are not sure what it actually means, we’ll briefly define it for you: To micromanage means to overly control every part of a business or work process, from the smallest detail to the largest transaction. Unfortunately, micromanagement can be detrimental to your company, even if you might not agree. Successful leaders will never need to micromanage their teams.
Micromanagement arises when you feel that you must take over your employees’ tasks. While sometimes this can be useful, it usually shows a lack of trust in your employees’ decisions, even when you might just want to motivate them. If you don’t want to be that type of boss, here are some ways to keep a check on yourself.
P.S.: if it turns out you are in fact micromanaging, don’t freak out, there are many ways in which you can correct yourself.
What are some signs that you might be micromanaging?
- Your staff doesn’t ask any questions. Your staff might not be asking any questions because you work too closely with them. While this sounds like a great thing, research shows that it actually isn’t. You might be giving out too much information, and this can be disadvantageous in the long run. In the end, your employees must figure out how to work by themselves; but if you’re micromanaging them, they might not learn how to handle work by themselves.
- Your colleagues stopped taking on new tasks. Work must be equally distributed among employees, so if your colleagues stop taking on new tasks it can be worrying. You might also be burning yourself out without knowing while making decisions for them, which is totally unfair and even counter productive.
- You’re saying too much about a project before its review. It’s okay to check if the requirements of a project have been considered but checking in too often can be a burden for your staff. They will feel overly controlled and sometimes even intimidated. You must let your colleagues solve problems on their own. This is how they learn! And that project will eventually get done, don’t worry. You must offer your team a chance to prove themselves.
- You’re overly involved in your coworkers’ tasks. Again, checking if there’s anything you can help with is okay. But continuously checking in even when it’s not welcomed is wrong and unnecessary. Know your time and place.
- You think there’s never enough time to get everything done. The last clue that you might be micromanaging is feeling like there’s not enough time to get everything done. For micromanagers, everything must be done perfectly and in a timely manner. But time seems to vanish when tasks pile up. Remember that old saying, a watched pot never boils? It’s kind of the same idea expanded.
How to lead without micromanaging
We discussed why micromanaging is bad and how you can determine whether you’re micromanaging or not – now it’s time to see how you can lead without micromanaging.
- Find your WHY. Reflect on your behavior, see why you feel the need to micromanage. For most people, this is not a work-related issue, it’s something that goes deeper than that. Maybe you are projecting someone else’s criticism onto your colleagues, or maybe there’s just so much at stake that you cannot afford to lose it. Whatever the reason, reflecting on your behaviour and admitting that you are indeed micromanaging is the first step to becoming a better leader.
- Get feedback more frequently. Your team’s feedback is essential to your growth. After you’ve analysed your behaviour, it’s time to figure out what others have to say about it. Go ahead and ask your employees for constructive feedback. Get a direct response to your questions instead of wondering what you could change. If there is something specific that you feel you could correct, ask them about it to see how they respond. What you hear might not be what you expect but remember! You’re doing this to correct your behaviour, so be open to everything they have to say.
- Prioritise based on your team’s needs. There might be some projects you should get involved in more closely, and that is perfectly fine. Becoming aware of micromanagement does not mean retiring from all of your duties and calling it a day. It means being aware of your involvement in the project at hand based on priorities. When your team needs more help with a project than usual, it’s time to intervene and help them solve the issue. Don’t forget to ask them beforehand to make sure that they really need your help.
Don’t confuse micromanagement with accountability
The last thing I want to touch on is micromanagement versus accountability. Many times, these terms get mixed up, so I want to make sure you’re not getting the wrong message. Keeping your employees accountable for their work is and should continue to be an ongoing matter. Making sure that they’re doing their jobs and checking in on them means taking responsibility for your leadership position. Provide your staff with everything they need and have your door open at all times. Work with your team and create independent action, but don’t forget how valuable teamwork is.
Make sure you understand what micromanagement actually means, don’t confuse it with accountability or personal responsibility. Ensure that you work along with your team and prioritise based on your staff’s actual needs, not on what you think those needs might be. Get feedback more frequently and develop an open attitude towards change. Good luck!
Author: Leon Collier – Freelancer
Photo credit: Paul Kramer on Unsplash