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As a manager or supervisor, it’s hard watching someone make mistakes, especially if you already know how to avoid them. Staying silent while they slip up (or even do things in ways you would not) is even harder. That doesn’t mean you have an excuse to micromanage them.

The problem with micromanaging is that most managers do not realize that they are doing it, or will not take accountability for micromanaging behaviors. Why? Because micromanaging is a sign of self mistrust.

What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is exactly what it sounds like; someone trying to personally control and monitor everything in a team, situation, or place.

While this is sometimes useful (in small-scale projects), this usually results in the manager losing track of the larger picture and annoying the team by being overly-controlling.

Let’s say that you’re told to complete a task. Usually, this would mean that your manager assigns you the job, asks if you need anything, and states when it is needed, and then pretty much leaves you to complete the operation. They should be available to talk to without interfering with the work directly and slowing the operation down.

If they instead micromanage, they would either watch your every move or demand progress reports more often than is necessary. They would likely chastise you for the slightest mistake or for carrying out a task differently from how they would have done it.

If you feel like someone’s always watching you work, picking apart every mistake or deviation without due cause, your manager is probably a micromanager. If you are that individual, you are micromanaging.

So how do you avoid micromanagement?

1. Set clear expectations

At the beginning of the month, discuss exactly what the employee is required to do. Setting clear, measurable goals makes it unambiguous about what is expected and opens up a dialogue of communication. By setting goals with employees they’ll have a better understanding of how their work fits into the bigger picture and a sense of control over how to go about achieving these goals. Try using systems such as SMART goals or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to make the goal-setting process more effective.

2. Clearly communicate what accountability is

During meetings with team members, clearly explain what accountability means and what you, as a manager, expect. If you feel that the employee is not taking enough ownership or initiative in their work, give them feedback about it. Tell them where you think they could improve, and give them the steps to go about it. Opening up the channels of communication allows you to build trust and rapport with your teammates.

3. Clearly define a plan

Outline the actions and steps required to get to the end goal. A great way to build on your expectations is to make sure the employee is part of the process and there is clarity on how to achieve their goals. Using Impraise, set up performance reviews, so you can easily correct for the next steps. By implementing a planning structure, employees know and understand how to get to a specific goal, without the manager having to micromanage the whole process. This allows you to free up some time to get the more important things done.

As explored above, micromanagement can kill motivation and lead to disengagement in the workplace. It’s important to clearly communicate to the managers or team leaders within the organization how to delegate effectively. Impraise gives managers and employees the opportunity to express feedback whenever they feel they need it the most. When an employee can easily express how they feel toward their managers, it fosters a collaborative and engaged workforce because employees feel trusted and heard. This two-way conversation allows employees and managers to focus on other areas of the business, which then leads to longer business success.

In conclusion, if you are finding that your team has not been communicating efficiently, working efficiently, or has just been overall disengaged- examine if you or your team are falling to the shortages of micromanagement.

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