Stop for a minute and think back to all the bosses you’ve ever had. Who was the best? Was it the manager who watched you like a hawk at every possible moment? Or was it the one who explained your responsibilities, gave you some tools, and let you do your job?
There’s a good chance it was the latter. In the workplace, practically no one enjoys working for a micromanager. It can feel suffocating, and it’s much harder to successfully do your work. Still, this nit-picky approach to leadership happens all too often.
If you’ve worked your way up to a management position, take steps to avoid falling into this trap. Keep reading for some micromanagement tips that will help you be the office leader rather than the office overlord. Your team will certainly be thankful.
1. Tech-Enable Your Projects
In business, one thing is fundamental. Projects that run smoothly have a much greater chance of success. Yours will likely be no different, and today that means employing the tech that will facilitate your efforts. If you’re developing a product, use a product manager tool to help your team to collaborate effectively. Once team assignments are specified, these tools track deadlines and enable task handoffs without you having to lift a finger.
One application or another could be just what your team needs to get on with its work independently. It could be a scheduling platform that facilitates prompt client appointments. Perhaps it’s an online messaging system that allows for instant communication between your remote employees. Or it may be a document-sharing platform that eliminates the need to email files. The point is to figure out what tools will create a better, more autonomous workflow — and then use them.
2. Choose the Right Employees
This might sound like a no-brainer. Maybe it is — but it’s also vital to your team’s overall success. Think about what happens when you put someone who isn’t qualified in a position of responsibility. You’re much more likely to hover around them to monitor their activity. That eats up your time, and they’ll feel micromanaged from the outset.
Putting the wrong people in place can hurt your team, and chances are you’ll end up firing them eventually. Replacing someone who’s a bad fit can take weeks. During that time, your other team members may need to pull double duty to keep your projects on schedule. The longer it takes to hire someone, the more tired and frustrated they’ll become. That’s always bad for productivity.
3. Get Comfortable Delegating
As the manager, giving up some project responsibility to a team member can feel strange. After all, managing is in your job title. Keep in mind, though, that managing doesn’t mean you control everything. It frequently means helping your employees grow and perfect their skill sets.
There are a few things to know about delegating tasks, however. Focus on finding the right employee for each duty. Then give them the necessary resources to succeed, including any additional training. Resist the temptation to constantly check in for updates or to offer “helpful” tips. That’s textbook micromanagement.
Tell them you’re available if they need you, but let them approach you, not the other way around. Ultimately, if the project is on target and on time, sit back and allow your employee to shine. In the end, they will feel empowered and appreciate your leadership.
4. Communicate Effectively
Clear communication is a critical part of avoiding micromanagement — especially when you hand off a task. Make sure that team members know you have an open-door policy. They should feel comfortable coming to you with any questions. Even though you won’t handle all aspects of the project, that doesn’t mean you’re walking away entirely.
Consider setting up weekly touchpoints to keep the lines of communication open. Talk about progress, any outstanding concerns, and potential upcoming hurdles. For big projects, do this face-to-face. You can handle smaller ones via email. Coordinate with your team members to find the best system that doesn’t inhibit their progress.
5. Set Expectations
Giving your team countless tools and resources is great, but they need one more thing to succeed: crystal-clear expectations. It’s important to set and explain your goals from the beginning. Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible for your team to hit their target.
Discuss objectives, due dates, and benchmarks, then step back and let your employees go to work. Allow them the opportunity to implement what they know and leverage their resources. There is one key point to hold on to, though. Your aim should be to explain what you want your team to accomplish — not to tell them how to do it.
6. Pass on Perfection
No, this doesn’t mean instilling an expectation of perfection in your team. It means letting go of the idea that everything will go exactly as you planned. That’s unrealistic and nearly impossible. Imposing that thought is also classic micromanagement.
Instead, embrace the idea that your employees will have their own ideas on how to proceed. Acknowledge and praise creative approaches. Just know that failure is still an option. Prepare for it and help your team learn from failure when it occurs. Use mistakes as learning opportunities to ensure greater success in the future.
7. Take a Poll
If you want to know your family’s preference for dinner, you ask them, right? The same concept applies to your employees and the way they’d like to be managed. By simply asking the question, you’ll show your team members you value their thoughts and opinions.
Most will probably tell you they appreciate the chance to work without too much oversight. If so, that’s great. Others may ask you for a bit more hands-on guidance. That’s OK, too. The important thing is to listen to their preferences. These conversations are also a great time to ask for feedback on your own performance.
Being a manager is no easy job. You may have several team members, but ultimately the buck stops with you. How you choose to lead your employees can directly affect their performance and productivity. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be armed to resist the urge to micromanagement.