5 Ways to Avoid Micromanaging

Striking the right balance between empowerment and accountability is not easy, but the effort can foster greater initiative and innovation for employees, and in owners, the transition from managing to leading.

So, how can you keep employees accountable, eliminating the need for you to hover? When employees believe that management trusts them without looking over their shoulders, they can carry a lot of responsibility.

Here are five creative solutions to avoid micromanaging:

  1. Hire the right people. Creating a culture of accountability starts with accountable people. Prospective job candidates need to be screened on whether they proactively seek needed information and feedback and whether they strive to accomplish team goals.
  2. Make people accountable to each other. There’s nothing like peer pressure to drive behavior. Give employees a chance to offer anonymous feedback to various teams in a quarterly and annual surveys. Through these regular audits, employees can give genuine feedback on performance from other departments as it relates to their jobs. The goal is to create a productive community culture but without backstabbing consequences.
  3. Clearly and frequently articulate expectations. When you don’t adequately communicate your expectations, you find yourself micromanaging. Employees can be evaluated twice a year with personal, detailed feedback. New goals and developmental needs should be determined at these evaluations. The frequency can be quarterly, involving a re-evaluation of goals and progress — and successes or failures should be discussed.
  4. Give employees decision-making power. Employees are more likely to own their work when they help to create or have a voice in what they’re doing. Some companies put many decisions to a company vote, wishing to inspire a dynamic culture.
  5. Give them an ownership stake. If you want employees to work like they own the company, then give them a stake in the game.

But, just maybe, the fault is not in the employees, but in ourselves. Downplaying your propensities to label yourself a control freak or claiming you just like to keep close tabs on your team are poor excuses for meddling. Give your people the space they need to succeed and learn, and prioritize what matters; then, step back.

Tips for becoming self-aware

You’re a micromanager if you laser in on details, prefer to be cc’ed on emails and are rarely satisfied with your team’s work. As a result, your team’s morale is established by a tone of mistrust, and this limits its capacity to grow. And it hampers your ability to focus on what’s really important: If your mind is filled with micro-level details, there’s no room for big-picture thoughts. As hard as it may be to change your ways, it will pay off in the long run. There may be a few failures as your team learns to step up, but ultimately they will perform much, much better with greater accountability and less interference.

  • Develop an awareness of why you micromanage. It may sound strange, but insecurity can be making you overcompensate. Instead, ask yourself what excuses you are using, causing you to micromanage. If you are usually thinking “it will save time if I do it myself” or “too much is at stake to allow this to go wrong,” then you are perpetuating this scenario. Instead, focus on reasons why you should not micromanage.
  • If you get feedback, you’ll see there’s a significant disconnect between what leaders intend and what the team is actually experiencing. Team members may be annoyed by your constant hovering. To get a handle on what your direct reports really think, see if their anonymous feedback lines up with your intentions. It’s critical to understand the broader patterns and reactions, the impact of your micromanaging on your team.
  • Prioritizing shows what matters and what doesn’t. Good managers train and delegate. Start by determining what work is critical for you to be involved in and what’s less important. The big-ticket items are where you can truly add value, and these are where you should spend most of your energy.

The most valuable work performed by true leaders is developing and articulating a compelling and strategically relevant vision for your team.