Micro-managing: what is it, and do you do it?
Micro-managing involves over-control of a delegated project, task or issue. Instead of team members or employees taking instruction and getting on with the job at hand, the micro-manager keeps them on a short leash, and closely oversees almost every aspect of the process.
Not only can micro-managing impact unnecessarily on your time, it could also affect the performance and development of the whole team.
How to recognise if you’re a micro-manager
Perhaps you feel unsettled when delegating, or feel that the task won’t be done to a good enough standard if you’re not in control at every stage. You may also feel that all decisions should come from you, as manager. Does any of this sound familiar?
Here are my tips on how to better manage employees when delegating:
If your team has all the relevant information, tools and skills needed for a task or project, there’s no need for constant interaction and evaluation. Giving employees enough detail to carry out the task and making clear what you expect in the way of results reduces the need for further explanation or ‘checking in’. If you’ve told them how to do it and what they should see as an outcome, that’s all they need to get things underway. Make it clear, however, that you’re available should they need help and trust them to seek you out if they’re struggling. Your role, as manager, is to empower your staff to apply themselves, show initiative and to research/decide elements of the task on their own, in order to develop as individuals.
Focus on the project as a whole, not the intricacies
The small details are for others to worry about when you’re delegating. Managers should look at the project as a whole, and the bigger picture, to lead and guide their team to bigger and better results. Get out of the control room and steer your ship towards bigger waters, because if you’re bogged down with finer details, who’s at the wheel?
Work at motivating and inspiring your team
There’s nothing worse than feeling stifled, spied upon or that your manager feels you’re not trustworthy/capable. As manager, your trust and faith in your employees’ work can itself be inspiring, and actions speak louder than words: if you’re lauding your team’s attempts whilst never more than a few feet away, or after checking in with them once an hour, your compliments will feel empty. Demonstrate your trust by keeping a safe distance and not getting involved when minor issues arise. Lead by example.
Look at things from your employee’s perspectives
You may see your involvement as reducing risk, or that you’re helpful and supportive; your staff may see it as meddling. Sometimes micro-management is borne from habit, with the intention only to ensure the project reaches the desired outcome, but being aware of how your interaction appears to others may help you recognise when you’re becoming too involved. You’re not a teacher or a parent and therefore shouldn’t act as such; you’re only looking to motivate and guide your team.
Remember your role as manager
What individual value do you bring to the company? What are your main concerns or responsibilities? How will you achieve praise? If you’re busy doing your job, you’ve less time or motivation to want to do others’ jobs for them.
Learn how to take a step back
If you’re unused to giving over control to your staff, try it for the first time with a less-important task/project. If you find the necessary results were achieved, move to stepping back from a larger one. Build your confidence, if this is what you lack, that your subordinates can cope without you.
Encourage a two-way approach
You can only exercise trust and afford control to others if they’re capable, firstly, and if you believe they can be self-reliant. If they only inform you of decisions made when they’re too late to be changed, or if they purposely keep you in the dark, it’s unlikely you’ll feel they can run with a project single-handedly next time round. Speak to your team and stress that you still need to be informed of progress at regular intervals, and not just if something’s gone wrong, or when expectations haven’t been reached. It should be a two-way street.
If micro-managing is a habit you’re finding difficult to break, I can help. Call me on 01302 220021, or contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org