Stop Micromanaging: Learn to Delegate and Stop Bad Management Habits

Micromanaging is a toxic habit that can quickly turn into a full-on addiction. It's easy to do and hard to stop, especially if you're the boss. But it's not just bad for your employees; micromanaging is also bad for you and can be harmful to your company as well! In this post, we'll discuss how managers can avoid micromanaging by implementing ten different strategies that will help them change their habits. As Marcus Buckingham says, "If people don't feel they are learning anything new or building skills, they need more challenge." So to be successful, you need to give employees what they want: more responsibility and opportunities for growth, development, and autonomy! If you can do this, everyone wins.

The key to stopping micromanaging is to recognize the signs and be aware that you're doing it. What a manager may perceive as helpful, explanatory, or even empowering to an employee may actually harm their relationship with their team members without knowing it. It's essential to know the difference between practical leadership delegation skills and being hands-off enough to recognize when your team can handle the tasks you've given them. We've previously covered some of how you can learn to delegate effectively. Now we're going to focus on how to tell if/when you're micromanaging, spot the signs to know when you've crossed the line with employees, as well as some steps you can take to stop micromanaging altogether.

What Is Micromanaging?

Indeed describes a micromanager as "a manager who closely observes the work of their team members. They often have good intentions and micromanage to improve the performance of everyone on the team. However, their behavioral tendencies can impact their team's ability to develop their own strong leadership behaviors." Of course, aside from a small percentage of managers and supervisors with nefarious intent, most are simply trying to be helpful and do their job to the best of their abilities. It's unfortunate, but even with the best of intentions, this type of behavior largely negatively influences workplace culture, employee morale, productivity levels, and more. 

How Micromanaging Impacts Employees

Trinity Solutions conducted a survey that showed 85% of respondents felt that micromanaging harmed their morale. Wow! Harry Chambers' book, My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide, shared this, along with even more shocking statistics. The study found that:

  •  79% of employees shared that they had experienced micromanaging supervisors in some form or another.
  • 71% said micromanaging interfered with their job performance
  • 69% considered leaving their jobs due to micromanagement
  • 36% of those employees ended up truly changing jobs.

Forbes even went so far as to say that micromanaging could potentially be seen as a sign of bullying employees. Perhaps that is an accurate depiction of how employees feel when they don't have the freedom and responsibility to perform their daily tasks without persistent guidance or explanation. So, with all of these examples of negative impacts that micromanaging can have on your workplace, it's easy to ask why it even happens in the first place. 

A Trinity Solutions survey showed 85% of employees felt that #micromanaging harmed their #morale! Have you taken a step back to assess your #management style? #leadership

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Why Does It Happen?

Organizations and leaders are judged based on results; customers and clients want it to work. Managers and even c-suite level executives want to see a project completed, another happy customer, and ensure the task is done the right way and on time. So, it is very tempting to do whatever it takes to achieve success during a project. You can't make excuses for why something isn't getting done, especially if the reason is that your employees didn't live up to expectations. So you do what it takes, and you repeat that process without making the necessary adjustments because the priority is the end product, not the process.

Becoming a better leader means taking action. You need to delegate effectively, although doing it right can take time. But better delegation will let you provide better service with half the stress. So, the question remains, how can you stop micromanaging your employees? Following are ten steps you can take to stop micromanagement and create a culture of trust, authenticity, better relationships with your employees, and more.

stop micromanaging

Ten Steps to Stop Micromanaging Your Employees

  1. Take time for employees to set goals. Helping your employee take ownership of their work motivates them to do better. It also encourages them to monitor their performance and self-adjust if/when their work is not going well. It's been scientifically proven that setting appropriate goals can achieve positive outcomes in the workplace and make your employees more effective at their jobs.
  2. Improve (or create) a feedback loop. Your employees can't improve if they don't know what they are doing wrong. Every few weeks, or more often if necessary, check in with your employees. Be sure to provide them with feedback and ask them to be honest about their experience. Their feedback will be equally as crucial as your tips for them to improve. A few moments can allow you to pass on some tips and encouragement that could yield significant gains in your teams' performance.
  3. Recognize your employees for good work. You have to balance the criticisms with recognition for good work. Providing regular, consistent, positive feedback ensures that your employees hear you when you talk about how they can improve, and it also demonstrates what good habits are to the rest of the staff. The US Dept. of Labor states that the number one reason employees leave a position is a lack of feeling appreciated. Find how each team member feels acknowledged and wants to be recognized, and develop a recognition program that fits your workplace. 
  4. Master the skill of delegation. Learning to delegate is a leadership skill that takes experience. It may take additional training, but the outcome is well worth the necessary time, energy, and resources it requires to implement. Once you and your leaders get the hang of it, it is vital to a positive work-life balance, company success, and successful completion of projects.
  5. Step back from the project, and have a plan to be hands-off. By setting clear goals, having consistent feedback, and delegating appropriately, you should be able to step back and allow your team to get the job done. Consider focusing on the end completion rather than each task that may need to be finished along the way.
  6. Have an ongoing process for developing authentic and emotionally intelligent leaders, not just hiring managers for a position. A critical part of a positive workplace culture is one where there is a genuine connection, trust, and mutual respect amongst employees at all levels, including, and most importantly, between management and the employee.
  7. Set the expectation for your teams. An essential part of setting goals when you aren't a part of the daily execution is letting employees know what is expected of them to achieve a successful outcome. Again, they won't feel like they have real freedom or understand their responsibility if you aren't upfront with them. This also goes hand-in-hand with all the other tips listed above. They all work in conjunction with one another.
  8. Communicate along the way. Depending on how large of a project you entrust employees with, it may be a process that takes a few days, weeks, or months. Keep open lines of communication and an open-door policy so that employees feel comfortable asking questions, expressing any frustration that arises.
  9. Foster a culture where employees are empowered. Empowered employees have the confidence to step up to the plate, think outside the box, and complete the project. It's a journey to empowerment and engagement; it requires leaders who have the skills to mentor and inspire employees. If your workplace isn't equipped with leaders who have these skills, it might be time to address the gaps and implement leadership training!
  10. Be proactive whenever possible. Want to stop micromanaging your employees? Implementing all of these tips helps create an environment where your employees don't need micromanaging in the first place! 

A critical part of a positive #workplaceculture is one where there is a genuine #connection, trust, and mutual respect amongst employees and #leadership at all levels.

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Address Your Impulse to Micromanage

Take notice of your behaviors and feelings as a manager and stop before acting. Are the comments you might make, or the action of you stepping in, making you feel better, or helping your employees gain confidence? Are you feeling an urge to act or speak out of your impulse to control the situation? Can your team get the task or project complete regardless of whether you step in? If you're looking to stop micromanaging your employees and become a leader who stays hands-off, exemplify the behavior of an authentic leader who trusts their team members.

Building Leaders With the Skills to Succeed

Does your workplace need more leaders rather than managers? Do you see a gap in knowledge and skills? Adequate leadership training can make all the difference resulting in higher engagement and retention, more motivated and productive employees, and your organization becoming (or remaining) an employer of choice. Projections, alongside IRI, is here to help you fill the gaps in your workplace and build better leaders that connect with employees. You can chat with our team of experts who can solve your engagement struggles and even start with a free consultation for your custom solution. We're just a click away.

About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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