Most leaders will admit that micromanaging damages the effectiveness of a team. Yet a good portion of those same leaders will micromanage their teams every day. Why? Leaders don’t micromanage because they are ogres intent upon making their team members’ lives miserable. Leaders micromanage because they are unwilling to truly delegate.
Here’s how it works. A leader gives an assignment to a team or a person – but he or she doesn’t actually let go of the assignment. Instead, the leader:
- Fails to give the team or person the room to fulfill the assignment in the manner that makes the most sense to them.
- Checks in far too often, in time increments that are much too short, so that the team or person never has a chance to actually do the work.
- Jumps to conclusions about the progress of the team or person based on limited bits of information.
- Criticizes the daylights out of the team or person!
The effects of micromanaging are completely counterproductive to the desired outcomes. Consider this example of a client company we had. Within the company, the management team was making bold moves to change the nature of their customer relationships and to improve their use of technology and therefore the quality of their products. The team was really hustling! They were doing everything they said they would do according to the plan they had presented to the company’s owner.
Unfortunately, the owner would not let go. He constantly asked for updates and questioned every decision his management team was making. The effect of his micromanaging? Even though business results were showing improvement due to the transformation efforts, the management team was getting demoralized. Their energy, passion, and commitment to the company were being eroded under the negative impact of micromanagement. A downward spiral had begun.
The good news is that micromanaging can be managed! In this case, the owner realized through leadership coaching that he was sabotaging his own goals. Letting go did not come easy to him, but delegation is a skill that can be learned. Through proper delegation, demoralization was replaced with motivation, negativity with positivity, and apathy with energy. Transformation was achieved and sustained across the business.
If micromanagement is part of your leadership style, today is the perfect time to start letting go. Here’s how:
- Set absolutely clear expectations for a delegated project.
- Give your team the resources, information, and support they need for the project.
- Put in place a reasonable schedule for reporting on results.
- Get out of the way and give the team the opportunity to succeed.
- Praise the team when they achieve the desired outcomes!