Were you one of these people who listed “being a perfectionist” as one of your weaknesses in a job interview?
If yes, you’re probably already dealing with a common problem that stems from “perfectionism” and “need for control.”
Many managers, team leaders and bosses in general face it — being a maniacal micromanager.
If you’re still lost about whether or not this is one of your characteristics, consider this example:
You ask an employee to do an assignment that has a deadline. You know you can trust this employee, because he has always handed in good work on time.
However, you keep stressing over the things that could go wrong, and you ask the employee to give you updates about the progress after each completed task — and when he doesn’t, you personally go and check.
If this sounds a lot like you, then you are certainly guilty of being a micromanager. An effective manager, on the other hand, would allow the employee enough discretion to complete the task on his own, without too much interference.
Micromanagers are also guilty of avoiding delegation, nitpicking, stressing over tiny details, overseeing projects of others and always making sure that decision-making takes place in their presence or with their consent.
Here are a few ways you can avoid becoming micromanager and nip this evil in the bud before it starts to grow. Your subordinates will thank you tons for it!
1. Hire Only the Best Of the Best
One reason why you could spend your time excessively worrying about what others are doing is if you simply can’t trust them — and for all the right reasons. This would clearly mean that your employees are incompetent.
This calls for being more selective during the recruitment process and ensuring that top talent is retained. Look for people you can trust!
2. Delegate More Often
Micromanagers are also highly reluctant to delegate tasks to other employees. As a result, they are always overworked and frustrated about meeting deadlines.
Learn to trust more and delegate work to employees who are a fit for the job. The more you delegate and “let go,” the more you’ll realize you aren’t the only person in the organization who knows how to his job.
3. Clarify Your Expectations
If you’re running into problems with delegation, it could be that you’re not clearly articulating your expectations. It’s best to take time to draw up the requirements of the project beforehand, rather than communicating those expectations as chunks of information relayed from time to time.
If need be, write it down — on paper. Just like a school instructor would detail the requirements of an assignment or project due at the end of the semester.
However, unlike a school instructor, you might want to “keeps checks” to ensure the project is headed in the right direction — but that doesn’t mean repeatedly checking several times a day. Once or twice during a short-term project should be enough.
4. Allow Them to Make Decisions
Avoid thinking that you’re the only one around who needs to put a stamp to decisions. Let your employees “own” their work and have discretion over what they do.
In many cases, employees know more about what should or shouldn’t be done to move toward a goal from first-hand knowledge and experience. Don’t act like you’re their mother.
5. Try to Look at the Big Picture
Avoid pointing out small details that have nothing to do with how a project was achieved. Recognize the fact that there are several ways to approach a problem or fulfill a goal.
Your way doesn’t have to be the right way if the results are the same and no organizational policies are being violated.
6. Know Your Employees Better
With time and experience, you should be able to learn which one of your employees is best at what.
Every employee has a special set of skills and strengths that can be useful for different tasks and in different situations. Recognizing these skills and strengths will allow you to delegate better and score better results.
7. Reflect on Why Micromanaging Is Bad
Some micromanagers not only realize that they are micromanagers, but also wrongfully take pride in it. They give excuses for why micromanaging is the correct approach.
These excuses usually include the following phrases: “being detail-oriented,” “saving time” or “making sure nothing goes wrong.” While these are thoughts any responsible manager would have, they can’t serve as an excuse to over-do the part where you manage people.
So, instead of focusing on ways micromanaging could help you or your team, think of ways it could do the complete opposite. For example, your team will not be able learn and grow. Or, it will detract your focus from important issues that are your job by being too involved in things that aren’t.
We know it’s difficult when you’re held accountable for the actions of others. But think of it this way: Does your superior have to micromanage you to get the job done?
Most likely, the answer is no — what’s even more likely is that you wouldn’t appreciate it one bit. Learn to give that freedom to your employees as well.