Most successful and visionary leaders have been able to find a sweet spot between micromanagement and being completely hands-off. And I feel they were probably able to do so because they could read the indicators of micromanagement. Yes, you read that right, indicators of micromanagement mean those signs that will tell you it’s time to control the micromanagement and do some damage control.
Just before that, what is micromanaging? It is when two positive attributes – attention to detail and a hands-on approach to work is taken to an extreme. Usually happens with managers who have a tendency to want to do everything by themselves because output will be better and faster and also because delegation does not come naturally to them. Hence, they are unable to involve others as that involves uncertainty about the outcome of the work. So instead of guiding the subordinate, they are most likely doing the job for him/her.
I personally feel this challenge of micromanagement exists at the mid-level employees; among those who are mid-way through their careers. And if these challenges are not addressed, micromanagement could lead to a toxic work environment which will bleed good talent and restrict the organisations growth.
Here are the signs to watch out for to avoid the micro-managing crisis in your organisation…
Indicator 1: Snail paced learning and growth among employees.
Most people join new jobs looking to learn through different experiences- micromanaging puts a halt in this process.
In some cases, yes, especially when a new team member joins the organisation, you may want to spend some time helping him/her plan out priorities and certain actionable steps; however over time if you do not let the person find a way out on their own, if you essentially “tell” them what to do at every juncture, then you are blocking his/her growth.When you micromanage, you get into doing and planning everything you hired the person for! Dramatically put, each manager instead of delegating, is working (probably extra hours) or at best creates a replica of his or her style of work, leaving little scope for unlearning, experimentation or innovation.
This has a large impact –on the organisation’s ability to expand at a fast pace. This happens due to lack of contemporary thinking and certainly implies poor ROI on human resource or simply put leads to under-utilisation of talent.
Indicator 2: Attrition of key talent.
Trust is the most basic ingredient of any relationship; lack of trust can even lead to not being able to manage achievement of results.
For any employee, once settled in a role, especially a high performing employee likes to feel in control of their own work; and what they most often need is your guidance, inspiration and appreciation. When constantly micromanaged, you might be dampening their personal satisfaction that comes from individual effort and self-direction.
Micromanagement can make team members feel inadequate and undermine morale.Constant questioning could be misunderstood as implying ‘lack of trust’ in your team; which can have a long-term impact on the quality of work.
If team members feel their capability is not being trusted and they are not comfortable with the constant watching over, they may choose to leave the organisation. Your key talent is sure to feel disengaged with micromanagement.
Indicator 3: Consistent delay in decision making.
If your team members feel like every move is being constantly dictated or watched over, this may lead to loss of confidence in their own abilities or even worst would be that the subordinate is dependent on your inputs; unable to function independently.
In extreme situations of micromanaging, your team may experience fear of failure over a period of time or even fear of criticism. If this happens, their productivity is surely going to be affected. For some people, the fear of being criticised even hampers the ability to get started on an assignment or project.
Simply put, your employees won’t feel empowered to make any decision without your approval. Can you imagine the amount of time that would be lost only in coordination? And needless to say, for business TIME IS MONEY!
If you observe any of these signs in your organisation, fret not. You could take the following actions to set an example among your mid-level employees to enable them to delegate better. Discuss these strategies with them and support them in implementing it.
A. Invest time in planning:
Right at the beginning of a project, set clear expectations with all team members. At this point, going over the details is a good idea as it will help you ensure nothing is missed out. Once this is done, let the team take over the execution of the project.
B. Provide Direction:
As a leader, your goal should be to empower your employees and to remove roadblocks that come in the way of their success. Allow them enough autonomy to take certain decisions which they can only keep you posted about. At certain stages of a project, check-in with your team members if they feel they need direction. Provide that and step back again- let them learn to steer it.
C. Give Feedback:
Giving and receiving timely and honest feedback. If you are open to listening, your team members will also be genuine in their concerns and feedback. They will be more willing to receive feedback as well.
D. Convey Trust:
Sometimes, small statements like “I know you all can and therefore I want you to make this a success” can go a long way to indicate that you completely trust your team. When they know that, half of your job is usually done, given the team is competent enough to handle it.
E. Drive Accountability:
Making people accountable for their work is of great value for an effective manager. Accountability is taking responsibility for your own actions. Know that people like to be held responsible for what they have been assigned to do as it motivates them further to do better.
It is only appropriate to conclude with what Lee Iacocca, the former president of Chrysler Motors, once said, “I am a strong believer in letting line operations ‘operate’ that is delegating to good people and then letting them do the job. I think a big part of my job is what I call ‘defining the envelope’ or setting the limits within which line management can operate on a relatively freewheeling basis.”
At Yellow Spark we have our proprietary module on People Management Skills – a uniquely designed workshop to create a strong second line of leadership and inspire your team to work more cohesively. Want to now more, write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.