We’ve all had that manager that simply can’t resist checking on your work progress five times a day. Nobody likes having the shadow of their boss constantly creeping over them. It increases stress and can be quite counterproductive.
Are you that type of person?
Relax, it’s not too late to embrace change and try to become a better manager – one who leads by example and helps employees overcome obstacles, adapt, and evolve.
Let’s start from the beginning.
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What Is Micromanaging?
Micromanaging literally means to “closely control and supervise the work of subordinates, and to pay excessive attention to details in managing”.
In practice, a micromanaging boss is one who is always examining their worker’s conduct, and every detail of their work. These types of people are very often labeled as “control freaks”, which is a bad trait not only in business, but also in personal matters.
It’s perfectly fine to leave others to do their work, since one would presume you trust them, since they are your employees.
Let’s review some good strategies on how not to be a micromanager.
How to Avoid Micromanaging – 9 Best Practices
- Develop good communication skills.
- Delegate responsibilities.
- Encourage decision-making.
- Hire the right people.
- Set clear expectations.
- Let employees finish their work.
- Build trust.
- Set deadlines.
- Forget about perfection.
1. Develop Good Communication Skills
Communicating well is an essential skill. Be it when talking to clients, discussing projects at the workplace, or communicating with your family and friends.
When planning projects, tasks or your workload, it’s a must to be able to communicate effectively with your co-workers. This includes being brief, yet thorough, leaving no doubt as to what the expectations are, etc.
The art of communication is not something that comes naturally to everyone. Still, you can take steps and spend time in an effort to improve your communication skills.
2. Delegate Responsibilities
You are not a one-man team, so don’t be afraid to delegate tasks and responsibilities to your team members. This shows you believe in them and their abilities while giving them a chance to prove themselves.
However, you should assign tasks according to each employees’ strengths and weaknesses, so that they are able to grow and learn in their role, instead of handing them a hard task, outside their competence, which will only make them feel incompetent.
3. Encourage Decision-Making
Let your employees practice decision-making skills and accountability. Of course, it’s advisable that you check what they have decided on before the final stage, just to prevent any potential disasters.
Again, it’s important to know your workers and understand their personal strengths. This will help you assign tasks that are appropriate to everyone, and will provide you with insight on how to improve their weaker points.
For example, if you have an employee who is afraid or not that good at making decisions, you can gradually give them small decision-making tasks that will help them gain confidence and reach a point where they feel more comfortable and decisive.
4. Hire the Right People
The first and most important step you should take on while learning how to avoid micromanaging employees is to hire the right people in the first place.
After all, if you hire a person who is under qualified or lacks the skills you require, chances are, you will need to supervise them constantly. Of course, no one is perfect, but the right candidate should be one who is trustworthy, talented and self-sufficient.
Sometimes you just need to trust your instincts and stick with a candidate who you feel resonates with your company core values and would be a good fit with the existing team.
5. Set Clear Expectations
Failing to set proper expectations from the beginning will most likely lead to failure. Your employees will perform better, if they know right from the start what you expect of them – the objectives of a project, criteria to measure success, time frame for execution, and so on.
What’s more, you can choose to go on the 100% transparent path and directly explain to your employees that you are not a micromanaging boss, and therefore will not hold them by the hand and overview their work non-stop.
This method can relieve potential stress and boost employee morale, since they will feel what they do in the company really matters.
6. Let Employees Finish Their Work
Do you like it when someone judges your work before you’ve finished it? It’s much better to keep your review for after the task is completed. Not letting an employee finish his work, and starting to criticize them or give additional instructions, is a clear sign that:
a.) you don’t trust them
b.) you like to micromanage
c.) you don’t believe in their capabilities
When you assign work to your employees, it’s much better to thoroughly explain what’s expected of them, and to explain you’re always open, if they need help. This way, you give them a chance to own accountability, and make decisions on their behalf.
7. Build Trust
Building mutual trust is at the heart of every successful organization. And when you trust your team, and they trust you, it’s much easier to delegate and let them work around the details.
It’s important to build a work relationship where employees know they can reach out to you at any time, while simultaneously feeling confident and independent enough to make their own decisions.
Trust also makes it easier to accept feedback, since everyone knows it’s constructive. On the other hand, a micromanaging boss, who typically lacks the trust of their employees, will most probably miss out on valuable feedback.
8. Set Deadlines
Deadlines are always useful in the workplace, as they help you organize your work better, and to establish which tasks are more important than others. Furthermore, deadlines are a great way to avoid micromanaging, especially if you let your workers set their own deadlines.
After all, they won’t have an excuse that they haven’t finished a task since they’ve judged the day it will be done themselves. And if the employee is keeping his work progress and due dates on track, it will be a good sign for you that they deserve your trust.
Be aware that micromanaging deadlines usually suppresses critical thinking, and problem-solving. On the contrary, it induces more stress and self-doubt. It’s much better to leave people to do their job, and judge the results once it’s done.
9. Forget About Perfection
There’s no such thing as perfect. Every person has his own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s wrong to burden someone with your own concept of what perfection should look like.
There are a lot of approaches to handling a task. Just because someone has a different workflow or alternative solutions that differ from yours, doesn’t mean they are not doing their job fine.
Generally, think about the bigger picture, and don’t punish your employees for some of their imperfections. A great leader, on the contrary, sees possibilities to teach employees and encourage them to improve themselves constantly.
Of course, if you notice that someone repeats the same mistake, you might need to step in, just be mindful on how you approach the situation. Again, the goal is to encourage employees, not demotivate them.
Signs of Micromanagement
All things considered, often times managers rely on heavily micromanaging their team, without necessarily realizing it. So how do you differentiate micromanaging vs. leading?
Here are some of the most common signs of micromanagement:
- Employees are afraid to share ideas. Your desire to control all processes might be getting out of hand. A very quick way of testing this is to look around and ask yourself whether your employees are sharing feedback and ideas with you. If not, it very likely that you are stressing them, and they feel it’s better to keep their thoughts to themselves, instead of risking your negative reaction. Additionally, you’ve probably established yourself as someone who always needs to make all the decisions. As a result, your employees are most probably resistant to making decisions without consulting with you.
- You don’t see the bigger picture. Are you too focused on every single detail? Do you forget about the bigger picture? Maybe you are too involved in tiny bits and pieces that aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things? If the answers are ‘yes’, then you’re almost certainly a micromanaging boss. You should relax more. It’s perfectly fine to leave your team to do their job, and take care of details. In the role of a leader, you have to be more aware of the end results, and of course, trust your team to deliver said results.
- You need to supervise everything. You are involved in every single process in the organization. Also, you sincerely think no single task can progress without your supervision. Maybe sometimes you even think it would be easier for you to handle all the work, instead of having to monitor and supervise everything. Reality check – you are neither the greatest human alive, nor are you irreplaceable. That’s perfectly fine. It’s better to learn yourself to be okay with delegating tasks, trusting your co-workers to do their work, and focusing on your own job.
Can Micromanaging Be a Good Thing?
As with most things in life, the answer is that it depends. Sure, micromanagement is not a great approach for 90% of situations, however, there are some instances where it could be helpful.
For example, you’ve just hired a new, very inexperienced employee, who just needs to be held by the hand at the beginning. In such a situation, it’s good to have a nice onboarding experience in place. However, sometimes, especially in smaller teams, you need to be at the new person’s disposal practically throughout the whole workday.
Of course, if you take such an approach, it’s important to acknowledge that you should stop doing it at some point to avoid your employee becoming too reliant on you. Naturally, everything depends on the type of person you are dealing with, and how their prefer to adapt to new experiences.
Remember that more than two-thirds of employees would consider quitting a job, because they are being micromanaged. So, more often than not, micromanaging is not the road you want to be on.
Micromanaging is counterproductive, stressful, and, generally, not good for anyone involved.
By following our strategies on how to avoid micromanaging, you can increase your employee’s productivity, and happiness. This way, you give them the opportunity to develop their skills.
Remember that a good leader handles situations with their workers’ pros and cons in mind, so don’t rely solely on general advice. Instead, know your employees and try to take the most appropriate actions depending on their characteristics.