If you have daily check-ins and consider yourself a hands-on leader, you could be micromanaging your employees and not even know it. A large percentage of leaders micromanage to varying degrees, and it comes down to trust, says Phillip Merrick, CEO of the email platform SparkPost.
"It's human nature to want to control things that you will ultimately be held accountable for," he says. "I've seen it consistently over 30 years in the tech business-and been guilty of it myself at times. The tough part is realizing that if you've done a great job in recruiting and developing your team members then they are worthy of your full trust."
Micromanaging is bad because it makes it difficult for a company to achieve success and live up to its potential. "Every individual wants to know they are trusted to do their job; micromanaging disempowers staff and leaves them feeling inadequate or frustrated," says Merrick.
Here are six ways you may be micromanaging your employees without even realizing you're doing it:
1. Monitoring the Method
The classic micromanager sounds like kids in the back seat on a long car trip asking, 'Are we there yet?' says Merrick. "The leader's job is to define the 'what' and the 'why,'" he says "A micromanager can't resist delving into the 'how.'"
If you're asking to see detailed plans and even helping to develop them, you're micromanaging. Instead, move your focus to the results.
2. Jumping In To Help
When a team member hits difficulties, instead of offering advice or information a micromanager swoops in and takes over. Instead of being a hands-on leader, step back and offer staff members the information or perspective they need to fix the issue themselves.
3. Not Defining The Company's Vision And Goals
Effective managers should articulate their company's objectives in a way that staff members can explain what business their company is in, the reason it exists, and the steps to follow in pursuit of its vision, says Merrick. If your team doesn't have this knowledge, it's hard for them to act independently.
"It's amazing to me the number of people in the technology industry, at all levels, who are unable to articulate their company's vision and major objectives," says Merrick. "Companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook do a great job on this front, and it shows in the results they achieve."
4. Setting Narrow Milestones
The main role of a leader is to develop the vision of where the company is heading, then set broad but measurable and time-based objectives that lead to the vision being realized, says Merrick. An example might be "launch new cloud offering by year end," or "reduce customer acquisition costs by 30%."
"Top-level company goals don't get into details about how they might be achieved, it's the work of the team to figure that out," he says. "Personally, I recommend setting objectives on a quarterly basis, since that is how the company itself is measured."
5. Having Team Members Accountable Only To You
Individuals perform best when they hold themselves accountable or they when they report to peers rather than relying solely on their manager, says Merrick.
"Every quarter, our executive team meets to report on how we each performed against the goals and objectives from the previous quarter," he says. "If you create goals that are easy on yourself you leave yourself open to cries of being a 'sandbagger.' Likewise expect to hear concern when goals appear unrealistic and unattainable.
"Knowing you will be in front of your colleagues at quarter end is a powerful motivator to ensure your goals are in line and that you will to do your best to meet or exceed them."
6. Believing No News Is Bad News
Instead of requiring and being bogged down by frequent status reports, assume everything is going well, says Merrick.
"With quarterly objectives agreed upon and in progress, I just assume each team member is on track to hit their goals, unless they tell me otherwise," says Merrick. "I should only be informed if issues arise that jeopardize those goals."