Micromanager. It's what every employee dreads, and what every leader vows they won't become. You swear that you'll never be one of those awful bosses who never trusts their employees, needs to weigh in on every little decision, and checks up on staff 10 times a day.

Yet somehow, it's easy to veer off path. People start slipping up, deadlines become missed. It leaves you no other choice than to start keeping people accountable, even if that means on an hourly basis.

It can be easy to fall into this dangerous habit. Micromanaging is only guaranteed to get you a lot more stress and many more resignations. Setting your team up for success is simple: No matter how big your team may be or how much (or little) experience they have, everyone needs to set goals and identify how they'll contribute to the team.

A clear path creates clarity for each employee as well as your organization. Great leaders know that planning and direction are necessary for results to happen. However, even the most seasoned pros either forget or procrastinate these simple exercises that will make the world of difference.

Setting expectations as a top priority will drastically improve the performance of your team and will create an open workplace that instills confidence, not fear. Here are three strategies to help you hang that micromanager hat up for good:

1. Stop assuming and start communicating.

You can't read minds, and guess what? Neither can your staff. You pride yourself on providing a workplace that empowers employees to figure things out on their own. Unfortunately, you're keeping them in the dark. This is precisely the problem.

Always allow your team to make decisions, but don't leave them guessing what is expected of them. Remember, there are enough challenges without adding uncertainty to the mix. Clear communication is critical to success in the workplace, so make sure you brief employees on expectations to avoid frequent check-ins.

2. Shift your focus from the end to the journey

We're always focused on the numbers. In business, we have to be. Profits, margins, expenses, losses. They're vital to keep the lights on and your books balanced. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be to a fault. 

If your employees are not getting you the results you want, it's time to shift your focus from the "what", to the "how". We tell employees what we want them to do, but we ignore how they're going to get there. Encourage them to map out their process and ask them to share it with you. And when they do, remember that your way of doing things is not always the best or only way; be open to their method and critical path.

3. Ask and you shall receive.  

Make the time to ask your employees what they want. By investing just an hour of your time, you'll learn what their needs, goals and challenges are. This builds trust, for both you and them.

At Creative Niche I start with outlining how each employee will contribute to the desired outcome. Once I've established what they require, I take the time to listen to their expectations and evaluate how I can help them to achieve their goals.

Published on: Dec 29, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.