Discover more from Scale it Up with Ishan
Why and How NOT to Micromanage
As managers and leaders, we often feel the need to stay involved with our team’s work. There’s nothing wrong with that! But when this need turns into a habit to ‘micromanage’, then it can damage your team’s morale, motivation and sometimes also lead to higher attrition.
Micromanagement is where leaders or managers feel the need to excessively control their employee's work and decision-making. So if you like to extend unwanted ‘help’, more than necessary or healthy for a usual working relationship, then you are a micromanager. Yes, not just a control freak or a person who likes to keep a close tab on their teams, but a micromanager.
Studies show that unnecessary or unwanted help can have strong negative reactions from people and can also erode interpersonal relationships. Even the U.S. Army general George S. Patton, a leader in one of the most traditional command-and-control groups in the world, understood the danger of micromanaging. He famously said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
How can you still be involved with your team without micromanaging them?
Why do leaders micromanage?
“Micromanaging dents your team’s morale by establishing a tone of mistrust—and it limits your team’s capacity to grow,” says Muriel Maignan Wilkins, coauthor of Own the Room and managing partner of Paravis Partners, an executive coaching and leadership development firm. “For the sake of your team, you need to stop,” she adds.
But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be involved at all. Understand the difference between being an involved manager and being all pervasive. In order to figure out ways of correcting your behaviour, the first step is to know the reason behind your habit of micromanagement. Some of the most common reasons that I have witnessed are:
Managers think this is the way to be more connected with the team.
New or first time managers still find it easier to do their old job. Hence, they end up intervening more than necessary when they see their team performing that role.
Managers feel anxiety or trust issue about their team’s readiness to do a task.
Managers feel the need to establish themself as powerful and get motivated by power
Senior leaders often fail to act as peers to other senior leaders who may be reporting to them
How not to micromanage?
It’s true that sometimes micromanagement works and delivers better output, but for high performers, it disempowers them and can lead to demotivation and possible attrition.
A better approach would be to move your actions towards effective management. Some of the ways to do that can be:
Communicate goals instead of dictating the process of completing the task. Never dictate how to do something when it won’t impact the outcomes and results. Instead, explain to your team what success looks like by communicating clear goals.
Guide more and do less. This means that you should provide feedback instead of doing everything yourself. If you feel something could be improved then don’t end up doing their work. Rather, guide them to try another round after your feedback.
Assess risks instead of constantly intervening. Constant intervention doesn’t help when a team member has already demonstrated that they can complete a task. So instead of checking in on them repeatedly, forecast what can go wrong and how work can unfold. Remove hurdles and blockers for your teammates.
Timely feedback instead of over involvement. If your team is working on a bigger project then make time to see slices of their work so you know what’s happening and can suggest a corrective course of action whenever needed. Don’t ask your team to add you to every email and meeting. Just be on top of things!
Let people fail instead of avoiding experiments. You should allow people to experiment and even fail sometimes instead of asking them to follow your way of working.
Don’t micromanage, deliver results
The expectation from a manager is to deliver results and not to micromanage. You can deliver better results by bringing in the best talent and setting them up for success by constantly enabling them and giving them space to execute.
What are your views on micromanagement? Do you think it’s a necessary evil? Do share your thoughts!
Thanks for reading Scale it Up with Ishan! Subscribe to get notified when the next newsletter is published