Micromanaging is one of the most damaging habits an executive can have. Teams get bogged down going through laborious procedures, and worse is the environment it generates: Groups that adapt to a micromanagement style are either quietly rebellious or hapless, unable to make any independent decisions.
This leaves you, the leader, constantly putting out fires, rather than focusing on the larger tasks that only you can perform.
The reasons for micromanaging range from lack of trust to simple inexperience. To help overcome this, members of ForbesCoaches Council offer this advice:
1. Adopt The 95-95 Rule
Why do most leaders micromanage? Because they are perfectionists — in a negative sense of the term. Nobody is as good as they are. Consequently, they don’t believe anyone can do the job as well as they can. What’s the solution? The 95-95 rule. If they accept 95% of perfect performance, 95% of the time, they will micromanage 95% less. – Gaurav Bhalla, Knowledge Kinetics
2. Set Weekly Meetings To Discuss Progress
If you’re a micromanager, set goals at the beginning and have periodic check-ins to determine progress. A leader who micromanages has trust and control issues. To help manage that, hold weekly meetings to discuss progress to minimize the anxiety you feel from not having control. – Dr. Venessa Marie Perry, Health Resource Solutions, LLC
3. Forget Minutiae And Focus On Results
Even for leaders, it can be easy to get bogged down in the muck and mire of everyday activity. Entrenched in minutiae, micromanaging is one classic example that wreaks havoc on a leader’s purpose and resources. Avoid it by simply homing in on the big picture: results. When leaders are focused on outcomes rather than the people and processes that produce them, their efforts are better served. – Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq., WordSmithRapport
4. Write Down Your Own Job Description
What are the top two to three key things someone at your level of leadership should be spending the majority of his or her time on? Write down your answers and review it daily. Then, focus on doing your job. Part of this includes ensuring your direct reports understand your expectations, and have all the information, resources and tools to do their jobs. Suit them up, then get out of their way! – Susanne Biro, Susanne Biro & Associates Coaching Inc.
5. Create An Environment For Honest Dialogue
One of the surest ways to stop micromanaging in its tracks is to cultivate an atmosphere of honest dialogue among all team members. A leader’s staff may expect feedback on their work, but truly opening the door for them to regularly provide feedback to a manager will allow team members to indicate what’s working and not working, including a tendency to micromanage. – Emily Kapit, ReFresh Your Step, LLC
6. Diagnose Together, Then Decide A Course
Get clear on your employee’s skill level (their ability to complete each task) and will level (their motivation). Make sure that you achieve clarity with your employee. Ask them about their readiness to execute each task and how much they really want to do it. Then, share your thoughts. Decide together the level of direction you will provide to ensure there is a match and that you don’t micromanage. – Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC
7. Develop Coaching And Delegating Skills
Micromanaging frequently occurs when high-performing individual contributors get promoted into leadership positions. “Leading” means working through others and requires a specific set of skills. Lacking the skills of coaching, delegating, decision-making and teamwork often results in new leaders micromanaging. Ongoing development of these skills leads to long-term leadership success! – Dr. Sarah Stebbins, Dr. Sarah Stebbins, C.P.C.
8. Hire The Best Talent With The Right Capabilities
Typically, when leaders micromanage their employees, there is a lack of trust in the employees’ capabilities to execute. Therefore, it is important to hire the best talent with the right capabilities in order to execute the job deliverables autonomously. Once the leaders have the best talent with the right capabilities in place, they can delegate with trust and conduct a cadence of progress check-ins. – Alicia Reece, The Reece Group
9. Be Aware, Avert, Then Alternate
Being on the receiving end of micromanaging is demoralizing over the long haul. The root cause of leaders who micromanage is fear. A strategy for leaders borrowed from coaching is to use the three A’s. First, become aware of what the fear is about. Once you are aware of your fear source, consciously move away from micromanaging by averting. Lastly, find a better alternative to micromanaging. – Alexandra Salamis, Integral Leadership Design
10. Try An Experiment
Micromanagers suffer from lack of trust. They are unable to trust others to get the work done the way they would do it. Try an experiment with one person for one project that does not have much at stake. Give the right directions or instructions and set expectations. Remind yourself to not check in outside of this, then see if the results produced are satisfactory. – Gia Ganesh, Gia Ganesh Coaching
11. Shift From Manager To Leader
Step back. Expand your view. Be more strategic. Get out of the weeds. The key to not micromanaging is to let go of the details and trust your employees to handle them. When you shift from manager to leader, you expand your capacity by taking on more responsibility. To do that well, you shift from doing the work to leading conversations and guiding others to do what needs doing. – Suzi Pomerantz, Innovative Leadership International LLC
12. Pretend It Is The Day Before Vacation
The day before vacation is almost guaranteed to be hectic. To get out of the office, you focus on the most critical items, ones most likely only you can accomplish. Use this strategy when you suspect you may be micromanaging or interfering. Tackle the items closest to you that require your expertise. Don’t be distracted, as your plane leaves tomorrow morning, and your team has it under control. – Leila Bulling Towne, The Bulling Towne Group, LLC
13. Stop Responding Quickly To Emails
If your typical response time to a team member is three minutes, wait 30. Often, by the time you would have responded, they’ve already come up with the answer. When you micromanage, you enable learned helplessness of your team. The only way to break that is to allow them to reach the answer on their own, without you. Eventually, they will learn to come to you for the bigger questions. – Aaron Levy, Raise The Bar Consulting
14. Allow Others To Point Out The Habit
Create an agreement with your team that allows them to politely point out when you are micromanaging without retribution. If you are able to catch yourself in the beginning, you can readjust and change direction. – Kelly Meerbott, You: Loud & Clear
15. Identify Why
The term “micromanager” is not a one size fits all. For example, new leaders haven’t learned what to manage, so they get too involved. Seasoned leaders don’t know how to delegate, so they don’t let go. Some leaders lack reliable data. Other leaders are trying to manage poor performers. A few are mistrusting and thus need to compensate. Don’t stop at jargon. Dig deeper. – Dr. Stacy Feiner, BDO USA
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