No one knows the business as well as you do, so you might as well retain control over everything, right? If you give someone a task to do, you need to look over his or her shoulders the entire time, making sure the employee is doing it the way you want.
That's called micromanaging, and it's one of the worst leadership styles out there.
So, why do employers micromanage? It comes down to trust and confidence. They don't trust the employees they have hired, and they don't have confidence in themselves as leaders. They are so afraid to give up control that they look over their employees' shoulders at every turn.
The micromanagement continues to deplete the manager's confidence, and it's awful for the employees, too.
Micromanagement leads to disengagement. If you constantly look of an employee's shoulder, he or she will assume you don't trust the work. Then, the employee will become disengaged, and that will cost you.
Just how much? Well, the book "12: The Elements of Great Managing" puts the cost at around $600,000 a year for a standard 10,000-person company. That $600,000 comes from days when disengaged employees don't perform any work at all.
Enough with the doom and gloom. Let's see how you can finally stop micromanaging so you can become a more effective leader.
How to Stop Micromanaging
You might think, "I've been micromanaging for years. It's just who I am." Maybe it's who you were, but it's not who you are. You can change it right now and become a more effective leader for your employees.
Step 1 - Reflect
As with all important changes, you need to start the process with some reflection. Why are you micromanaging your team?
There's a good chance it's insecurity, and you might want to push that feeling back down. Let it come up, though. It's normal to be afraid that your team will make a mistake and it will reflect badly on you. While it's normal, it's not healthy. Micromanagement is a form of overcompensation.
Once you know the reasons you micromanage, it's time to counter them. Come up with counterpoints for each of the reasons so you'll remember why it's important to avoid micromanagement.
Step 2 - Talk to the Team
If possible, hire a third party to come in and talk to your team about your management style. Make the process confidential so your subordinates will open up. Have the third party ask the team if you micromanage and what impact it has on them. This will help you understand your true management style and what you need to fix.
Step 3 - Learn to Prioritize
Micromanagers tend to be awful at prioritizing. Everything is important, so they have to sign off on every little detail before the team can move forward. In reality, you don't need to be involved in every little task, but you do need to be involved in some. Look at the tasks your team handles and how those tasks help you reach your overall goals. Then, determine which tasks are the most important.
For instance, strategic planning is critical, and you should be involved. Proofreading a presentation isn't all that important, and you can leave that to your team.
By prioritizing the tasks, you will finally become a real leader. You will handle what you need to handle and sit back and let the team take the lead on less important issues. It will empower them without putting your company at risk.
Step 4 - Have a Conversation
You have to let your employees know what changes to expect. Once you know what you need to be involved in and what you're going to step back on, let them know. Explain when they need to get approval and when they can take the lead themselves. This will empower your employees. They will be excited about taking ownership of certain aspects of projects. This will engage them, and they will get more work done than ever before.
If employees still come to you for approval on areas you've delegated to them, just tell them you trust them and back away. This will show them that you're serious about your new management style.
It's important to be an engaged leader, but engagement and micromanagement are not the same things. You need to have trust your team to take on some of the less important responsibilities. That will free up your time to make sure all projects align with your overall goals. It will also empower your employees and allow them to take ownership of certain tasks. That ownership will give them a sense of pride. Also, as you start trusting your employees, they will start trusting you, too. That will make it much easier for you to be an effective leader.