Almost no one likes to be micromanaged. Even those guilty of micromanagement dislike it when the tables are turned. But that does not stop people from using this method of management.
It often stems from a deeper need to be in control of the whole situation. It may also come from a fear of being held accountable. Despite the caricature, many people who find themselves micromanaging others do not do so out of malice. In fact, they may be doing it for positive reasons.
Whether they are just trying to help someone struggling or they simply miss their old job, not everyone intends to be the overbearing monster they are made out to be.
Are You Stifling Creativity?
Regardless of the reasons, micromanagement is a poor strategy to use in almost any business. The inherent danger in this management strategy is that it will stifle creativity, learning and innovation. This is because employees in this situation do not have the freedom and support they need to work well. It also ends up leading to employees to who resent management, their work and their job.
People who hate their job rarely end up making significant contributions. There is also scientific evidence that micromanagement is bad for your company. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology said that people who feel like they are being watched will perform at a lower level than people who have more autonomy.
Understanding that micromanagement is bad is not the hard part. The most difficult part of overcoming this management style is understanding why you do it and how you can avoid it. If you are afraid of losing control of a project or team and you hover over them as a result, it is time to take a step back from your methods.
Delegate, Walk and Observe
One of the best ways to deal with your transition from being a bad boss to being a guide and mentor is to do so slowly. If you’re afraid of everything getting out of control, do not just let go of the reigns. Not only will this cause you more stress but it might even shock your team into an unproductive state. Instead, begin assigning the least important processes to those that can handle them. After you have delegated the assignments, assure your team that you are there for support if they need you. Then, walk away.
Walking away is the most important part of this process. If you do not walk away, you are not changing anything. In fact, if you do not leave the team alone, you will be far more likely to be breathing down their necks at the first sign of trouble.
If you struggle to walk away, set goals for yourself. Allow your employees to be alone for an hour. Then double your goal and make it two hours. Soon, you can set times to officially check in with them in the morning and before you go home. After you have gotten used to assigning minor tasks to your team, you can start delegating more and more responsibility.
This is not easy right away; however, if you have a competent team, this will get easier as time goes on.
Manage and Course-Correct Chaos
If one of your main fears is that your employees are not actually competent individuals but childish goofballs then delegating responsibility to them is actually a way to prove whether you are right or wrong. If you’re worried about this issue then you should use the same process that you might use if you are trying to relinquish control. You should assign minor tasks, offer your support and walk away.
If your team are a bunch of cartoon characters, this will become apparent quickly. You can see it in the way they behave when you give them some control. However, it is important to remember that a brief glimpse of freedom causes a little bit of uncertainty and chaos. Some may wonder if it’s a trap.
You cannot judge a team’s first impressions when you suddenly let go of the reins. As a result, you should not fire people on the spot. Instead, give them the space they need to adjust and see how they adapt. If you have a good team, you will notice attitudes changing and productivity rising.
If members on your team are indeed your worst fears then you know they aren’t a good fit for the role. This is the appropriate time to discuss further action.
Recognizing your inner micromanager and learning how to deal with it is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your business. Not only will you lower your own personal stress levels, you will encourage creativity, innovation, loyalty and productivity in your company. A company can survive a ruthless dictator. But it cannot prosper if you have a room full of suffocated employees.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Kenny Kline is the owner of JAKK Solutions: A NYC SEO Company. He is a digital marketing expert, MBA, and serial entrepreneurial. When not in front of his computer, he can be found beekeeping, knitting, and being as Brooklyn as humanly possible. Connect with @thisbekenny on Twitter.
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