Many of us subscribe to the idea that, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” We all have a specific picture of how we want things done, and sometimes it’s hard to sit back and watch other people try and bring our vision to life.
But if you’re always controlling every move your team makes, guess what? You’re a micromanager. Don’t believe it? Here is a list of qualities that describe a micromanager, according to Process Street:
- They don’t delegate
- Any delegated work is taken over again if a mistake is spotted
- They hate decisions being made without them
- Their focus is on the little details rather than the big picture
- Most (or all) of their time is spent overseeing others
- They ignore the opinion and/or experience of others
- Frequent updates are requested by them (even if the project isn’t relevant to them)
- They often find deliverables unsatisfactory
You may be reluctant to identify as a micromanager, but this behavior must come to a stop in order for your team — and business — to truly succeed. So it’s time to fess up. Do you micromanage?
It’s OK to say yes. If you did, you’re hopefully wondering, “How do I break this bad habit?” Here are seven steps you can take to get on the road to delegating and helping your team thrive.
1. Be Honest with Yourself
As a business leader, it’s important to be self-aware enough that you can step back and admit when you need to change your management style. But self-awareness is hard. If you’re not sure how to look at yourself with a more critical and introspective eye, you can start by seeking out trusted friends or colleagues. Have an honest conversation with them about how you behave as a leader, and they will likely give you a few ideas of things to work on. You can also check out these tips from Harvard Business Review.
2. Hire the Right People
If you have trouble allowing your employees to work independently, then it’s especially important to make sure you hire people you can trust. How do you do that? The New York Times has a lot of ideas, including asking the right questions during interviews. Most candidates are ready to answer the usual questions (and will give the usual positive answers), but asking them more unique questions, like what kind of animal they’d be and why may shed a little more light into who they really are.
3. Get Feedback
Go beyond friends and trusted colleagues – ask your staff what they think of your management style. You can conduct an anonymous survey (via a third party if necessary) and take everyone’s responses into consideration. You may be surprised by how your team is really feeling about how you’re managing them.
4. Train Your Team
After you’re hired the right people, you need to train them on how to perform well in your company. This will, of course, involve teaching them the specifics about how to do their job. But beyond that, you should tell them what you value in an employee: How do you prefer to be kept in the loop? What level of independence do you expect of them? How should they proceed if they encounter a challenge? This way, you’re all on the same page and you can trust them to do things in line with your preferences.
5. Prioritize and Delegate
Take a good, hard look at the work your company does, and ask yourself what you really need to be involved with, and at what level. It’s probably more critical for you to lead strategic planning and new business development than to proofread presentations. So while you’re focusing on the big-picture items, there are likely other projects that you could delegate to your staff. Think about some low-hanging fruit that could be handled by other team members that would both help you take a load off your plate, as well as help your employees learn and develop.
6. Set Everyone up for Success
When assigning projects and tasks, make sure you keep everyone’s strengths in mind — including your own. If you know Amanda clams up when speaking in public, then you wouldn’t make her the presenter on a new investor pitch. Maybe you use her rockstar research skills instead. Likewise, ask yourself where you can truly add value — even if it’s on smaller tasks. Rolling up your sleeves and diving into a project with your team (without taking complete control) can really go a long way.
7. Step Back Slowly
You may not be able to quit micromanaging cold turkey. Try starting on a less urgent project and letting your team run more of the show. Remember that they don’t necessarily have to do things your way to do them well. If that project turns out well, start applying this approach to work across your company. You may also find it helpful to consider a management technique such as Objectives and Key Results, which provides all of the useful elements of micromanagement without the need for total control.
Once you’ve successfully empowered your team and given them the control and independence they need to thrive, you’ll find that your company runs much more smoothly. In addition, you will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, as you’re now able to focus on the big-ticket items to really grow your business. So go ahead — take the leap to end micromanagement and then sit back and enjoy leading a team that you can trust.
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