Four strategies to help you stop micromanaging

No one likes to be micromanaged. It’s frustrating, demoralizing and demotivating. Yet, some managers can’t seem to help themselves. Dealing with a controlling boss who doesn’t trust you is tough.

But what if you’re the micromanager?

Like most micromanagers, you probably don’t even know that you’re doing it. Here are the signs:

  • You’re never quite satisfied with what others do.
  • You often feel frustrated because you would have gone about the task differently.
  • You take great pride and/or pain in making corrections.
  • You constantly want to know where all your team members are and what they are working on.
  • You ask for frequent updates on where things stand.
  • You prefer to be cc’d on emails.

Of course, paying attention to details and making sure the work is getting done is important and all the above could be said to be a necessary part of management. But they aren’t all necessary all of the time.

The problem with micromanagers is that they apply the same level of intensity, scrutiny and in-your-face approach to every task, whether warranted or not.

The point is, you need to stop. It’s harming your team’s morale and, ultimately, their productivity. Here are four strategies to help:

  1. Get over yourself.
    We all rationalise why we do what we do but instead of finding all the reasons why you should micromanage, find reasons why you shouldn’t.
  2. Let go!
    Let go of the minutia. This can be hard, but do it a little at a time. Start by looking for what you can pass on to a team member. Communicate with your team about what level of detail you will engage in.
  3. Give the ‘what’, not the ‘how’.
    There is a difference between sharing an expected result of a task and dictating how to get that result. A manager clearly sets the conditions of satisfaction for any task that is assigned. Articulate what you envision the final outcome to be but don’t give blow-by-blow instructions on how to get there.
  4. Expect to win – most of the time.
    Underlying the need to micromanage is a fear of failure. By magnifying the risk of failure, your employees start to feel helpless and wait for you to micromanage them. But be clear on what success looks like. Provide the resources, information and support needed to succeed and give credit to others where it is due.

With a commitment to focus on the big picture and on motivating your employees, you will be free to be the most effective manager you can be.

Source: BRW November 2014