How to Stop Micromanaging Your Team: Tips to Build Trust
Micromanaging might not seem like a crucial workplace issue, but it can destroy a team’s morale, engagement, and productivity if left unchecked.
We’ve shared how micromanagement affects employees, but that’s only one side of the story. What circumstances cause a leader to become a micromanager? Can they change that behavior for the better?
What is Micromanaging?
Micromanaging is a term used to describe managing someone in an overly controlling way, with excessive supervision and attention to detail. Micromanagers might not be doing this intentionally, but there are damaging consequences regardless.
It can be easy to feel defensive about your management style, especially if you’re under a lot of pressure in your position. If you lead others, try to read this article with an open mind.
If you recognize any of your actions in the points listed here, consider the solutions offered and give them a try. The results might surprise you.
So, how can micromanaging bosses adjust their behavior and habits for the better?
Focus on Emotional Intelligence
One of the worst things about micromanaging is that it can come from a well-meaning place. Many managers with good intentions slip into micromanagement without realizing it, because they are under a lot of pressure to get results.
You might be feeling disconnected from your team, so you overcompensate by messaging them constantly. You might be overextended and managing too many people, so you require frequent self-reporting on their work.
You might genuinely want to develop your direct reports, but you do that by giving them too much work and too much feedback, instead of guiding and supporting them.
Stop toxic behavior before it starts by developing your emotional intelligence. By embracing your ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power of acumen of emotions, you will facilitate higher levels of collaboration and productivity.
You will be better able to understand your direct reports and can offer them the support they need, instead of over-management.
Hire the Right People
Micromanaging often starts due to a lack of trust, so stop the problem before it begins by finding the right people to join your team.
One of the best ways to create certainty in the hiring experience is to utilize a benchmarking process. Benchmarking is the process of creating the profile of the ideal candidate for a position and then measuring all candidates against that profile.
It doesn’t replace the regular screening process or disqualify any candidates (that’s illegal!); the benchmarking process defines the role, not the individual.
Benchmarking will help you fully understand the role and its responsibilities. That way, you won’t be guessing at what needs to be done and over-monitoring your employee; you’ll have a better sense of what will make their role successful and what will not.
Establish A Communication Cadence
Micromanagers are notorious for over-communicating. Whether it’s constant meetings, incessant communication through a chat platform like Slack, or surprise check ins, employees will feel highly scrutinized, like their every move is being watched.
Solve this with a set cadence of communication. Ask the employee how often they’d like to meet, and use a project management tool to check on the progress of work. The idea is to create other ways for managers to check on the status of projects without overwhelming their employees.
When your team is able to anticipate reporting on their work and prepare for meetings, they will feel more at ease. You as a manager will be informed of issues and concerns as they arise, and they will get the chance to work independently until they need help.
Embrace Support and Resources
The Harvard Business Review reported that more than half of managers (53%) felt burned out at work.
They also reported that one of the main contributing factors to burnout is a perceived lack of control. Ironically, that lack of control can be what turns regular managers into micromanagers; they are seeking control in any other aspect of their work lives and overcompensate by repeating the behavior with their direct reports.
Break the cycle! You don’t have to repeat the poor behaviors you’ve experienced; in fact, you have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of your employees.
You can do this by seeking out support in your workplace, for yourself and for your team.
Find out if your organization has a mentorship program, use resources like thought leadership articles and webinars, and seek out additional training if allowed to improve your skills and your ability to fulfill your role. Encourage your team members to do the same at the appropriate level.
Move Forward Without Micromanaging
Micromanagement is a damaging force in the workplace, but just by reading this article, you’ve increased your awareness. By working to develop emotional intelligence, utilizing benchmarking, establishing effective communication, and finding the right resources and support, you’ll find the right way forward.
Are you interested in using an assessment tool to develop emotional intelligence? TTI Success Insights can help.
Topics:Emotional Intelligence Team Management Business Strategies Workplace Culture Talent Management Behaviors
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Jaime believes authenticity and storytelling are the keys to successful marketing. As a graduate from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, she loves finding and connecting narratives. When she's not at work, she's psychoanalyzing contestants on The Bachelor, painting, listening to podcasts, or playing tabletop RPGs.