Generally speaking, leaders want to be the best leader they can possibly be.
They want their teams to perform as best as possible.
Sometimes, this desire can lead to micromanagement.
What starts off as a desire to ensure high performance can turn into a need to oversee everything.
The problem is that people generally don’t like to be micromanaged. They resist this type of leadership – even when they don’t intend to.
What starts as an attempt to improve team performance ends up backfiring and actually slowing a team down.
If you’re a leader, and you’re wondering if you might be micromanaging your team without even realizing it, then read on for some tips on how to help identify this, what causes it and how you can start to shift those patterns.
What is micromanagement?
Micromanagement happens when someone takes on responsibility for tasks that extend beyond what that person is (or should be) responsible for. From a leadership perspective, this happens when a leader starts to take responsibility and control over tasks and decisions that should be the employee’s responsibility.
Here are a few examples of what this can look like on a day-to-day basis:
- Always telling others exactly how tasks must be approached.
- Requiring team members to ask for approval for every decision they make.
- Rejecting any ideas that aren’t yours.
- Asking to be copied on all e-mails.
- Attending meetings where your presence isn’t truly necessary.
- Being reluctant to delegate tasks to team members.
- Requiring that you always know exactly where each employee is and what they are working on.
- Jumping in to save an irresponsible team member because you don’t want it to reflect poorly on you.
As a leader, you need to oversee your employees’ work. Let’s face it – you have a responsibility to ensure that your employees are performing well and are getting adequate support. But when this steps into constantly watching over them to ensure that no mistakes are ever made… well that’s where you begin to slip into the territory of micromanagement.
Why is micromanagement so dangerous?
Simply put? It’s incredibly stifling to employees.
Although the micromanaging actions of a leader are often coming from a place of wanting the team to succeed, the reality is that it leads employees to be less engaged and actively involved in their own work.
When someone watches your every move, it feels like you’re not trusted. When people don’t feel trusted, they end up not being fully invested in the projects they’re working on.
While a leader may think that checking in often to ensure that every aspect of a project is going exactly as intended will help projects move forward smoothly, the outcome is most often the opposite.
Furthermore, these behaviours often stem from a place of insecurity rather than from a place of trust.
What can I do differently?
To successfully lead a team, leaders must give responsibility to their team. They must leave them space to fail. Employees need to be given the opportunity to take steps in the wrong direction. After all, this is what helps them learn when they’re going in the wrong direction. It’s how they learn to readjust.
If employees are never given a chance to figure out problems on their own, they’ll become increasingly dependent on you – which also means that your workload will become incredibly high, as you need to approve each step of every project and need to solve every little problem that comes up.
Successful leadership is about providing employees with the just right amount of support and independence needed to flourish, as well as the ability to hold people accountable for their actions in a way that supports improvement rather than using blame.
If your goal is to step away from micromanagement, one of the first things you can do is try to allow your employees to take more responsibility in their roles, as well as responsibility for their errors.
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