Being an effective manager is no easy task. Not only do you need to provide vision, goals and guidance for your team, you also need to give them the freedom and autonomy to take on projects, learn new things, and be the best they can be.
If you excel at providing tasks, parameters, and instructions but insist on hovering over every part of the process, you’re only halfway there. And halfway there never wins the race.
But in this case, halfway just might earn you the not-so-glorious title of Micromanager extraordinaire.
What is micromanaging?
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of micromanage is to control or manage all the small parts of something (such as an activity) in a way that is usually not wanted or that causes problems.
In other words, you’re driving everybody nuts.
Beyond the frustration factor, there are a number of business risks associated with micromanagement, the effects of which can be detrimental to the progress of your business. Even if you genuinely love your team and have only the best intentions at heart, constant micromanaging can have serious, long-term consequences on productivity and morale.
It’s holding people back
When staff members aren’t allowed to manage and execute their own projects, they don’t feel like a trusted part of the team. And without trust and autonomy, it’s impossible take ownership of the work.
Constantly following orders and being directed (and re-directed!) leaves people feeling demoralized and unmotivated. Creativity and energy levels will drop as once-excited employees realize their main function is simply to check off boxes. Striving for excellence will be a thing of the past, and mediocre will be the new order of the day.
How to kick the habit: Define who is responsible for each project and when it needs to be completed, then let everybody get to work. Provide clear end goals, but be open to alternative ways to achieve them. Demonstrate faith and confidence in your team. Resist the urge to constantly pull out your checklist, ask how things are going, and re-do things that have already been done.
It’s discouraging innovation
The key to improving processes is recognizing that your way (or the established way) is not always the best way. This is especially true in today’s lightning-fast workplaces. Focusing on keeping every tiny detail the same from project to project, day to day, and year to year will only stunt individual, team and organizational growth. Releasing yourself from a particular task and your expectations about exactly how it should be done just might result in some amazing new finds.
How to kick the habit: Instead of checking in with your team at every step along the way, set a mid-project meeting to touch base and another one closer to the desired completion date to make sure nothing’s falling through the cracks. Most importantly, schedule some time to de-brief the project after it’s complete. The de-brief is where processes can be shifted and redefined based on what worked and what didn’t. Celebrate what went well and listen to feedback on what can be improved.
And it’s not good for you, either!
If you’re in a management position, it’s probably because you have some pretty high level skills and experience. The thing is, your talents will be wasted if you choose to spend all of your time checking, re-checking, or taking over other people’s projects.
How many things on your To Do list aren’t being touched? How many extra hours are you putting in trying to do your own work plus everyone else’s? Not being able to let go not only leaves your team feeling frustrated and less than useful, it greatly increases your risk of burnout. And that’s not good for anyone.
How to kick the habit: Hire great people and let them go! Delegate projects in a way that allows you to feel confident in the process. If you’re worried about one person being able to get the job done, assign it to a department or team. Then, concentrate on your own projects and ideas, and making them the best they can be.
Learn to let go
Your team members are there for a reason. Heck, you probably hired many of them yourself! Relieve the stress of micromanagement by:
- Trusting that you made the right hiring choices
- Resisting the idea that you alone are responsible for results
- Relying on the people you’ve surrounded yourself with
- Giving your team permission to take ownership of their work
- Giving yourself permission to get out of the weeds
Letting go of your micromanaging ways will give you (and everyone else!) the freedom to breathe easier, work smarter, and feel like an integral part of the team.
So go ahead! Kick those unhealthy habits to the curb. And let them stay there.
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Photo by mohamed_hassan