Hiring a manager qualified to supervise, delegate and pay attention to details is essential. However, when that same level of scrutiny is applied to every instruction given and coupled with the need to know every little thing–it turns into micromanaging and can harm your business.
No one likes to be micromanaged. It’s frustrating, embarrassing, and demotivating to be treated like you’re not good enough by your superior. Yet, some managers don’t realize what they are doing and truly believe that the employees they manage require a lot of attention. If you find that you have a micromanager (or two) in your business, follow the insights below to help them become aware of their behavior, and create a plan of action to change it.
Micromanaging can occur when high-performing employees get promoted into leadership positions without having the proper people skills. The word “leading” means to work with others and requires the specific skills of coaching, delegating, decision-making, and teamwork.
Fear of failure is at the core of micromanaging. An employee who is promoted to be a new manager, but lacks leadership skills, will be afraid of failure and will try to control everything. A seasoned manager may not know how to delegate, and out of fear of failure, will end up doing everything themselves.
Helping someone understand why they micromanage is the first step towards changing their behavior. Coaching a micromanager to strengthen their leadership skills is the second step toward their transformation.
Empower vs. Enable
Leaders encourage self-management, while micromanagers try to control everything. A manager who is controlling and involved in every detail can cause employees to believe that they can’t perform unless they are told what to do. This not only affects employee morale but also teaches employees “learned helplessness” and can create a vicious cycle in your company culture.
Teach your managers to focus on the big picture and to provide the employees the resources, information, and support they need to achieve the company’s goals. Remind them to motivate the employees, give credit where credit is due, and that their job is to be the most effective manager they can be.
Discuss vs. Dictate
There is nothing wrong with having an expectation about a project. However, there’s a difference between discussing and dictating how to achieve the goal. Telling an employee the exact process to follow disengages the person’s creativity, skill, and responsibility. It is better for a manager to explain what they envision the outcome to look like, without giving play-by-play instructions on how to do it. Allowing the employee freedom to use their knowledge and skills to complete the project builds their confidence and experience.
An effective manager knows how to communicate ideas and tell employees clearly what is expected of them. Explaining “what” needs to be done instead of “how,” and “asking” rather than “telling” the team member, empowers them to take responsibility and to do their best.
Manage vs. Control
Micromanagers fear change; leaders seek it. A person who micromanages does not like feeling like they don’t have control. Holding a quick meeting at the beginning of the week to set goals can help ease this anxiety, as they learn to trust the employees. Asking the employees to check in periodically to discuss progress can help a micromanager feel informed without knowing every detail.
The key to not micromanaging is to step back, look at the end goal, let go of the details and trust the employees to handle them. When a micromanager transitions to being a leader, they stop doing all the work themselves and begin guiding others to do what needs to get done.
Advice for a Micromanager
Some managers make the mistake of thinking that the role of a leader means to control, dictate and monitor all the details. Micromanaging is one of the most damaging habits a leader can have, causing employees to either be quietly rebellious, passive, or unable to make any independent decisions.
Begin by changing how you speak to your employees and learn to ask more questions instead of giving directions. Remember that the employees do their job every day, so give them a chance to tell you their perspective, ideas, and thoughts. Asking questions will provide you with valuable insight about your employees and how to guide them to be their best.
Learn how to communicate your messages with accuracy and simplicity. You have to be able to explain to your team what you want from them. When you stop to think about what you want and why you want it, it will be easier for you to clearly and effectively tell the members of your team.
In conclusion, if you find that you have micromanagers in your business, begin to teach them the skills for coaching, delegating, and team-building. In just a few months you can transform a difficult manager into an effective leader and watch your team of employees expand into their full potential and optimal performance.