Recently, we’ve been discussing the perils of being a micro-manager—one of those super obnoxious bosses who delegates to an employee, but then cannot stop checking up, sending emails, and doing the task themselves.
Giving up micromanaging won’t be easy. You may find yourself experiencing the same kinds of symptoms as those giving up caffeine or dieting–urges to sneak just a small piece, rationalization as to why it’s okay to wait one more week to get started, or massive headaches as reality sets in. Keep at it! Micromanagement really does hurt the general health of your team, and your employees will become stronger, more confident, and more active when you demonstrate that you trust them to get the job done.
But you don’t have to quit cold turkey. This week, why not try one or two of the following steps, and see where a more hands-off approach gets you?
- Pyscho-Analyze Yourself. Why are you a micro-manager? Is there performance pressure from above that is causing you to pass on your insecurities to those you manage? Do you fear their performance will reflect poorly on you? Do you lack true communication with your employees? Is there a trust issue? Often, just knowing why you are micromanaging will set you on pace to remedy the problem.
- Differentiate between your own lack of trust and employees who are untrustworthy. It’s a painful question, but it needs to be asked: Are you micromanaging because an employee is incompetent? Has he or she truly let you down in the past, or haven’t you given him a fair shake? If you have given that employee genuine opportunities to produce on his own, have offered constructive criticism and an action plan in an evaluation, and are certain that the problem is with him, not you, then you must act. Continuing to do the job of an incompetent or misplaced employee is a drain on you and the entire team. If re-training doesn’t succeed, do the hard work of reassigning that employee, or letting him go. You will be free to concentrate on your true job, and the employee will be free to find work more suitable to his skills and abilities.
- Remember who you are. What, really, is your job and role in your business? If you’re the owner/boss, chances are you built your company from the bottom up—and you remember the day when you had to do it all. Likewise, if you worked you way up the ladder, make sure you recognize what you’re really paid to do. Your job now is not to produce—it’s to motivate, organize, and lead other people to be more productive. Start measuring your success by the success of your employees.
- Switch Shoes. Take a moment to imagine what it would be like to be on the other side of your own management. For just one day, make mental notes of what you say and do to an employee. Do you catch yourself looking over their shoulders at computer screens? Sending excessive memos? Correcting small errors instead of seeing the big picture? Getting in conversations—more than once—about the goals and methods you expect in a project? Now, imagine a boss who treats you as you treat others. How does that shoe fit?
- Try a Small Change. Start with just one employee, or one project. Promise yourself you will leave it alone for a specific period of time. When time is up, evaluate. How did your staff do? What was the product outcome? Most likely, if you have the right people in place, your employees will have surprised you with their success. To celebrate, do it again!
- Consider Asking Your Employees to Help You. Be honest with your team. Tell them you want to make a change in leadership style, and ask them to offer suggestions on how you can better work together. Give them the freedom to tell you when a certain level of involvement from you is too much.
- Make a Plan to Keep in Touch. Giving up being that micro-manager doesn’t mean giving up being the boss. It’s still important to track progress, to offer insight and direction, and to lead. Continue to challenge, stay informed, and respond to your employees’ needs. Just give up the pesky stuff.
Just quit! And let me know how it goes with you.
Challenge: Which of these steps am I going to try this week to help me in my resolve to quit being a micro-manager?