Join Britt Andreatta for an in-depth discussion in this video Avoiding micromanagement, part of Management Foundations (2013).
- Micromanagement is actually what happens when delegation goes badly, and it's usually due to one of three causes. The first cause is an incomplete evaluation. As I mentioned earlier, the evaluation phase is the phase that most people skip because they're often delegating under pressure. They're in a hurry to offload something during a stressful time, and that never ends well. The second cause is lack of clarity about the level of autonomy. When an employee feels micromanaged, it's because they thought they were getting a higher level of autonomy than they are.
It's the manager's responsibility to make the level clear. When you communicate the level you're giving to the delegate, you eliminate any confusion or mistaken assumptions that either of you may of had. Over time, as employees are successful, you should be granting higher levels of autonomy. This demonstrates that you trust your employees, which will contribute to their motivation and engagement. 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.
In other words, the delegate was capable of completing the task successfully, but the manager stepped in. This not only frustrates the delegate, but short-changes their opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes it's not even conscious. The manager truly believes that they're just helping out and doesn't see the bigger ramifications of what's happening. Most often, when managers violate the agreed upon level of autonomy, it's related to the manager's discomfort with letting go. While the manager may have had good intentions to honor the level of autonomy, they're not able to control their personal reaction to the letting go process.
There are a few common sources that I want to highlight for you. See if any of these are concerns that you struggle with. Number one: Thinking that it's easier or faster do it yourself. This one is tricky because it usually is easier or faster to do it yourself. You may be tempted to take over the task and just get it done, but remember, a large part of being a good manager is about developing your people. You need to give them the opportunity to learn, which takes time. The second cause is worrying that your staff are already overburdened and cannot take on anything more.
I've struggled with this myself, but it has helped to remember that employees are most satisfied and motivated when they get opportunities to grow. Talk with them and brainstorm together about how to shift things around, or even eliminate unnecessary tasks to make room for new opportunities. The third reason people struggle with micromanagement is fear of losing control or importance. Delegation involves the loss of direct control and this may cause some managers great discomfort. This is the great thing about delegation. It pushes everyone to grow a little, even you.
Remember, you can build in progress checks and coaching discussions to create a safety net that allows you to keep an eye on things. This also allows your employees space to develop new skills. I also find it helpful to remember that there are many paths to an outcome. If you know your employee can produce the work, be more flexible with how they get there. So try these strategies to help you overcome the temptation of micromanagement. If you find that you continue to struggle with letting go, don't hesitate to seek the support of a career coach or a personal counselor.
Part of how you're assessed as a manager is how your team grows and develops, so it's an investment in your career, as well. Remember that the growth of your team depends on your ability to let them try.
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- Choosing a management style
- Hiring employees
- Coaching employees
- Managing team performance
- Establishing trust
- Motivating and engaging others
- Delegating responsibilities
- Avoiding micromanagement
- Managing remote employees
- Knowing HR regulations<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.