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Avoiding micromanaging

From: Delegating Tasks to Your Team

Video: Avoiding micromanaging

In my professional life, I've conducted hundreds of job interviews, and during each one we talk about supervision. First, we ask how the person likes to be supervised and not once has anyone ever said, "I love to be micromanaged." Every single person said something like, "I like to be given the parameters of my work and then allowed the freedom to do my job." In addition, we always ask candidates who will be managing others what their management style is, and again, not once has anyone ever said, "I'm a micromanager." In fact, most people make a point of saying that they're not, and yet in reality micromanagement happens all of the time.

Avoiding micromanaging

In my professional life, I've conducted hundreds of job interviews, and during each one we talk about supervision. First, we ask how the person likes to be supervised and not once has anyone ever said, "I love to be micromanaged." Every single person said something like, "I like to be given the parameters of my work and then allowed the freedom to do my job." In addition, we always ask candidates who will be managing others what their management style is, and again, not once has anyone ever said, "I'm a micromanager." In fact, most people make a point of saying that they're not, and yet in reality micromanagement happens all of the time.

You've probably been micromanaged, I certainly have, and you may have actually micromanaged someone else, I've done that too. So with all the good intentions, how is this happening so much? Well, it's usually due to one of three things. The first cause is an incomplete evaluation process. As I mentioned earlier, the evaluation phase is the phase that most people skip because they're often delegating under pressure. They are in a hurry to offload something during a stressful time, and that never ends well. By using the tips from this course and by committing to doing the evaluation phase, you will automatically eliminate the source of micromanagement.

The second cause is lack of clarity about the level of autonomy. When an employee feels micromanaged, it's because she or he thought they would be getting a higher level of autonomy than they are. It's the manager's responsibility to make the level clear. When that doesn't happen, it usually stems from skipping the evaluation process or from simply not knowing about the different levels. Now that you know about the multiple levels of autonomy, you can make an informed decision about what you're giving a delegate and why. When you communicate the level you're giving, you eliminate any confusion or mistaken assumptions that either of you may have had.

Now over time if you always give low levels of autonomy, you will demonstrate that you have a pattern of not trusting your employees, so be sure to push yourself to grow as well. Keep an eye on delegation briefs over time. If you team is performing well, you should be giving higher and higher levels of autonomy. The third cause of micromanagement is the manager violating the agreed-upon level of autonomy. When it's unnecessary, it will feel like micromanagement to the delegate. That's different from the situations where it is necessary for the manager to step in.

This would be because the stakes are high or because the delegate truly cannot accomplish the task. This type of involvement by the manager would come as a result of discussions between the manager and the delegate. Everyone should be on the same page about what's happening and why, and in fact, the delegate may have even requested the assistance or at least can certainly see why it needed to happen. But when true micromanagement happens, it's because the manager has unnecessarily violated the level of autonomy. In other words, the delegate was capable of completing the task successfully, but the manager stepped in anyway.

This not only frustrates the delegate but shortchanges their opportunity to learn and grow. This sometimes occurs because of poor communication, the involvement was necessary but the manager did not adequately communicate what's happening and why, but most often this issue is a result of the manager's discomfort with letting go. While the manager may have had good intentions to honor the level of autonomy, he or she may not be able to manage their personal reaction to the letting go process. As a result, they undermine the delegate's autonomy. In the next video, we'll cover common causes and strategies for overcoming this fear of letting go.

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Delegating Tasks to Your Team

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Britt Andreatta
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