Shocking, isn’t it?
No one wants to be micromanaged, and yet we all know what it is, which means that someone is doing a lot of it.
And it could be you.
While you may or may not be a chronic micromanager, chances are at least one person has felt you were doing it at least some of time.
How can I be so sure?
Because everyone has a different definition of what it is, and so even if you use the same approach all the time, and most people don’t see it as micromanagement, someone will at some point.
If we want to stop micromanaging, we must first realize that we probably do it.
And hopefully now see that that includes you.
So once you recognize the problem, how do you correct it? Here are six ideas.
Create clear expectations. One reason we micromanage is that we aren’t sure people fully understand the task, the importance of the task and more. How do we solve that? With truly clear, mutually understood expectations. When you as a leader know that the other person is clear on the goal, the importance of the outcome and everything else that is relevant, you are less likely to check in “just to make sure.”
Focus on outcomes first, not approaches. Oftentimes we micromanage because we want people to do it like we would do it. (I have more to say about that below.) If you want to avoid micromanagement, focus on the outcome, not the approach or process. Be clear with yourself and others that the goal is the result, and you are OK with them getting there in a different way, as long as the key measures of success are met.
Find out how they’d like your support. Once the expectations are clear, ask this question: “How can I support you so you will be successful?” or, “What help do you need from me?” These questions will allow for a conversation about how and when you will connect, and how you will get the updates you need and they get the coaching they need. This conversation itself will help both of you and also manage the possible perceptions of micromanagement.
Give people a chance to succeed. Once you have done the three things above, let people get to work. One of the biggest problems with micromanagement is that people feel they aren’t trusted. Don’t be that boss.
Give people a safety net. I know one reason you might give for checking in regularly (i.e. what others might call micromanagement) is that you don’t want them to fail, the project to fail, or for you to be seen as failing in leading your team. This is understandable, so think in terms of a safety net which prevents major problems and keeps people from veering dangerously off track. Remember too that a safety net provides some space, not someone holding a person’s hand all the time (i.e. micromanagement!).
Get out of your own way. Maybe you have a way you want it done. (If people meet all of the expectations, why would that matter?) Maybe you think no one can do it as well as you. (Really?). Here’s the bottom line: micromanagement is often more about us, than the person we are trying to “help”. If you want to avoid micromanagement, you need to let go of your issues, your need for control and frankly, get over yourself. If you have done the steps above, this shouldn’t really be that difficult.
No one likes to be micromanaged, and most people don’t want to be one, even when they might realize they are doing it. If you take action on these ideas, you will be more aware of your behavior and less likely to be seen as a micromanager.
Higher engagement, ownership and likely productivity, and less stress for everyone.