Are you always in the weeds, constantly checking the status of deliverables, wanting to be copied on every email, and worrying that your team’s work will reflect poorly on you? Do you feel it is easier to do things yourself than to delegate? These feelings may be particularly strong now with teams operating in hybrid mode and often asynchronously.
If you identify with the above, you clearly have trouble delegating, and you micromanage your team.
Micromanagement may give you short-term results, but it hurts you over time. It kills the creativity and accountability of your team, makes them feel controlled, hampers their development, and demoralizes them. Your team needs space to learn and succeed. Overprescribing and follow-ups deprive them of this space and autonomy. It takes away their learning opportunities and the chance to shine and causes disengagement.
You may rationalize why you micromanage, but it does not serve you. You spend a disproportionate amount of time on things that are not worth your time. It keeps you away from strategic aspects of your work that need your attention. Your capacity and productivity are negatively affected. Your team feels disempowered. Over time it becomes incapable of having an independent point-of-view and cannot function without you. With your overall effectiveness compromised, your candidature for a bigger/better role is diluted.
The tendency to micromanage can be hard to let go of, especially if you feel the pressure to prove yourself to your seniors or do not trust the team to perform. Here are a few tips to help –
Set clear targets – Lay out a clear picture of the expected results and what quality output would look like. Set your team up for success by defining success.
Ask instead of telling –Tell your team the outcome you are looking for or the problem that needs to be solved, and let them figure out the process to achieve it. It will make them feel trusted and give them the autonomy to experiment, make mistakes, and learn. It will also make them stronger performers. If the team is new, ask them how they would approach the problem and hear out their ideas. You may not agree with all their ideas, but you would have picked their brains, and both of you would have learned something, in the process.
Set boundaries –Set your team’s expectations about timelines, how often you need updates regarding the status, and what do want to review in each status meeting. Schedule review meetings and then resist the temptation to hover over them. Establish psychological safety by clarifying that your role is to provide guidance and resources if required. Let them know your style of review. Design your review and feedback to match the criticality of your project. If your feedback is not commensurate with the stakes involved, your team may feel picked on.
Manage up – Ensure that you and your boss have a shared understanding of the definition of success and the periodicity of when they need updates. This will help you avoid surprises.
- ask yourself why you micromanage and challenge yourself to let go
- set clear targets for your team
- let them figure out the path
- lay out expectations of timelines and reviews, and
- establish trust and safety with your team to help them feel free to seek help when required.
By not micromanaging, you will empower your team to do more and make room for them and you to grow.
What is your biggest challenge to stop micromanaging? Do share in the comments.