We all know them. They work for long hours during the week and do the same even on weekends. Vacations are a luxury they cannot afford as they insist on doing everything themselves – only they can get it right.
Delegating tasks is not a topic for consideration – they alone can get it right the first time. And in order to ensure they have absolute control of every project so everything in the office is done their way, they make it obligatory that they are copied on all important emails. These are your typical office micromanagers.
Does this sound familiar to you? It probably does.
What is Micromanaging?
Micromanaging is derived from positive qualities that involve a painstaking and proactive approach to situations. This approach is not bad to start with, but it can quickly become toxic when combined with distrust for others and an obsession for control.
A micromanager is an individual who feels the need to exercise absolute control over every aspect of an organization’s or the micromanagers direct report’s activity. A Harvard Business Review article revealed two likely reasons a manager could become a micromanager:
- They are worried or anxious about being too disengaged from grass-root activities (loosing touch = loosing control).
- They achieved their current managerial position by progressing through different lower ranks and are struggling to let go of the demands of their old position (because I’m so excellent in it)
Why You Should Stop Micromanaging
Micromanaging is a damaging habit that prevents the growth and potential of an entire organization. Employees are stuck with routine and laborious processes, without an opportunity to make independent decisions – and this negatively affects their confidence.
Truth is, it is impossible for top talents to thrive in such an environment. It is either they fail to reach their potential or they exit the toxic environment. Innovation is also curbed – even stifled – as mistakes, which form a natural part of the learning and development process, is hardly tolerated.
Unfortunately, in doing the job of others, micromanagers fail to do their own job as well as they should. And surprisingly too, you may not even realise you are micromanaging your team. You probably think it’s part of your job to assign tasks, issue directives, and monitor the team’s progress. However, taking all of that to extreme levels turns out to become micromanaging, even if that wasn’t part of your plan.
Now that you are sure the act of micromanaging is a double-edged sword and disaster waiting to happen, here are a few practical steps you should take to break free from the habit.
It is almost impossible to break free from habits in the twinkling of an eye. And depending on how far gone in micromanaging your team you have been, it would be wise to take baby steps. This will also prove helpful for members of your team as they many need some time to put on their thinking caps again.
Pen down your Job Description
What are your duties as a team manager? What are the top demands of someone at your level? Penning down answers to these questions will help you identify your job description and focus on it. To ensure you focus on your job without the distractions of looking after other members of your team, it would be especially wise to make sure your direct reports understand what you expect of them, with all of the information and resources they need to do their jobs. Prepare them for the job – and get out of their way and let them do it.
Set Weekly Progress Meetings
Micromanagers are control freaks with trust issues. If you are one, you can start by setting goals at the beginning of each week and organise meetings to discuss the progress of the set out tasks. This way, you would feel less anxious about not having absolute control over every relevant project in the office.
Setting weekly progress meetings is also an ideal way to motivate members of your team, since they are in control of the set goals. Rather than making goal-setting decisions for your team, you can let them tell you what they hope to accomplish and how they plan to go about it.
Create Room for Open and Honest Dialogue
A great way to nip micromanaging in its tracks is creating an environment where honest dialogue among all members of the team is encouraged. A member of your team may naturally expect feedback after a completed job, but your actions will determine if the door is open for them to provide feedbacks regularly. Cultivating an atmosphere of honest discussions will allow your team members fill you in on their efforts, achievements, and any drawbacks they experienced.
Establish a Clear Course of Action
Know the skill level of your employee and try to understand their motivation – it would be ideal to ensure clarity with your direct reports. How ready are they for each task? What do they think about each project? Having a clear perspective of your employee’s skill-set and motivation will ensure you chart a mutual level of direction for each task – and you can also rest assured your employee is a direct match for the specific project.
Develop Leadership Skills
Micromanaging usually occurs when individuals with high performance and dedication levels are promoted into managerial positions. However, leadership requires that you work with and through the skills of others. Developing leadership and coaching skills will help you master the art of delegating tasks and promote teamwork in the organization.
Being more of a leader rather than a manager will also help you trust your employees to handle specific tasks more often. Do away with the high-end details. In order to be a leader, your role shifts from a rigid manager to one who engages in dialogues and conversations with employees, offering guidance where necessary.
Hire Talent That Fit Specific Roles
Lack of trust is a major flaw of office micromanagers. As such, it is important to hire only the best candidates with the right abilities to deliver the required results for their role. Once you have the best talent in place, it would be a lot easier to delegate tasks in confidence that you will achieve top quality results in the end.
Tone Down Your Response Time
It is typical of micromanagers to multitask – running around the demands of their role, looking out for those of others, and checking mails every few minutes to ensure nothing is left behind. Pause! If you usually respond to emails within three minutes, you can wait for thirty more minutes. In some cases, a solution may have been provided before you come up with a reply. Micromanaging makes for a routine and bogged down process. But by allowing them find solutions to questions on their own, they will eventually find their feet and discover answers to even bigger questions.
Remember: Lead more, manage less.
Cultivate an Environment that allow Team Members Call your Attention
What better way to grow than allowing members of your team point out your micromanaging habits! By politely pointing out areas that you could adjust, you will be better able to lead your team rather than represent a rigid managerial head.
Implement a Clear Set of Values
At AS-Schneider, we have clear values we live and stand by every day. This helps to create room for open and honest feedback amongst all colleagues.
Our core Values are: Trust, honesty and openness, commitment, respect and innovative culture.
Finally Break Fee
In order to break free from the micromanaging habit, identify why you are currently a micromanager – and take steps to redirect how you handle affairs at the office.
Whatever the case, do not feel bummed if you discover you are micromanaging your team. Take advice from others and try to improve where necessary. You can rest assured your efforts will pay off in the long run – for you and for the success of your team.
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