Stop Micromanaging Your Team – Lead Them Instead

As a manager, your strength is in directing and guiding your team – yet it can be easy to fall into the trap of micromanaging.

A few missed deadlines or sub-par results may have spurred you into paying closer attention to your team’s work, or maybe you’re just naturally someone who likes to be involved at the granular level.

The problem is that when you micromanage your team, you’re creating a group of individuals who are reliant on you instead of their own talents – and you’re working way harder than you need to be.

Rather than doing your team’s work for them, you should be focused on leading them. Being a leader rather than a micromanager means taking a step back, so you can view things at a higher level – something you can’t do if you’re focused on telling your team how to accomplish every task.

Are these micromanagement problems holding you back?

Problem 1: You haven’t learned to delegate.

If you find yourself thinking, “It’ll just be easier if I do this myself,” then you may have a delegation problem.

Are you holding on to projects that your team really should be taking care of?

One reason may be that it seems like it’ll be too much trouble to explain. If so, consider that after the initial investment of time in teaching your process to someone else, you’ll be saving all the time you used to spend doing the project.

Or, you may think that someone else could never do as good a job. That could be true – but as a manager, it’s your responsibility to teach someone else to do the job. Your employee needs to develop those skills, which will only happen through practice.

When you delegate, be aware that your way of doing things isn’t the only way. If the employee’s take on a project is different than yours – but still effective – be open to trying something new.

Problem 2: You are the only accountability system.

If you have employees that are constantly forgetting tasks or missing deadlines, you may feel you have no choice but to check in constantly. But if constant check-ins with you are your team’s only accountability system, you’re holding them back.

Try to set up an automated accountability system, so everyone can see what needs done, who’s doing it, and where they’re slacking.

Asana or Trello are both great systems that allow you to assign tasks, set up automatic status reports, and communicate all within the program. That keeps things from getting lost in overflowing inboxes, and means you can see how things are going by just logging in.

That should help satisfy your micromanaging tendencies while still giving your employees the sense of autonomy that will help them become better workers.

Problem 3: Your expectations aren’t clear.

Are you always re-doing your team’s work? It could be because they don’t understand your expectations.

You may be spending a ton of time reworking your team’s projects because you think that your team will eventually learn your expectations and start producing better work, but that’s rarely the case. Micromanaging can actually have the opposite effect: pretty soon your team may not put the effort in to begin with.

Instead, consider that your directions aren’t clear enough. Lay out clear deliverables, outline any best practices, and list any specific resources you want them to use. Then let your employee give it a shot.

If the work comes back sub-par, don’t just take the project back. Instead, give them notes and let them revise. This way, they’ll actually learn how to do the project.

Problem 4: Your employees don’t have decision-making power.

If your employees feel like they have a say in a project, they’re more likely to do good work.

But when you micromanage and maintain all the decision-making, your employees will always have to come to you when they have a question. This trains them to rely on you, rather than making their own decisions, and tells them that they don’t have any ownership over their work.

In the long-term, this will burn you out, and make your employees not care. Instead, start letting go of smaller decisions. Start with small things, like choosing fonts in a presentation, or organizing a meeting time. Once you’ve learned that you can trust your employees when it comes to small things (and your employees are finding confidence), start to let go of bigger decisions.

Enjoy your newfound freedom

Micromanaging isn’t only harmful to your team’s productivity, but it can keep you from being a real leader who brings vision to the organization. Demonstrate confidence in your team’s skills, and you may be surprised by the level of creativity and competence they display.

Are you a micromanager? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

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