If you’ve ever been micro-managed, you fully understand the aggravating confidence-busting results that can occur. Fear of impending failure, decreased motivation and complete disengagement from your work. When your supervisor doesn’t seem to understand the levity of the potential consequences — work life can become quite miserable.
However, if you are that individual doing the managing — and worry that you tend toward micromanaging — there is little advice to actually help “save you” from yourself. In many cases, it may feel that the root of micromanaging begins with the behavior of a struggling employee. However, there is another perspective to consider.
Setting personality characteristics aside — your need to micro-manage could be the result of neglecting a few, very necessary best practices.
So, let’s explore a few ideas to help curb a tendency to micromanage:
- Become mindful of the potential consequences. Pause and consider that you need to support an employee, not badger them. Ultimately, you cannot control every individual action — and if you try do so you — you squelch autonomy, independent thought and growth. However, the worst outcomes are yet to come: the damage you will wreak upon trust and self-confidence.
- Evaluate employee strengths in relation to assignments. If performance seems under par, have a conversation with the employee about the scope of his work in relation to his or her skill set. Sometimes an employee is simply not a fit for the work at hand, and this must be addressed in short shrift. If it becomes evident that this was a selection mistake — take actions to re-assign them.
- Commit to communicating fully. Many performance issues have much to do with unclear performance expectations about the role or how the work should be completed (Organizational style and mores come into play). So, don’t skimp on communicating job-related information during on-boarding and the initial months of employment. Furthermore, review best practices at the start of key assignments. If you invest more time in your employee, there will be far fewer issues to potentially micromanage down the line.
- Discuss feedback mechanisms. Individual differences reign here. While we all must be accountable, what may completely suffocating to one employee “check-in wise”, may be perfectly acceptable to another. Be sure to agree upon the level of day to day supervision, that works for both you and your employee. If possible, consider utilizing technology (Trello and Basecamp, for example) to dampen your desire to look in too frequently.
- Emphasize on-going learning & development. It seems that our work lives become more challenging by the day. As a result, your staff may require on-going training to stay prepared. If someone’s skills begin to lag behind, it is up to you ensure they have the opportunity to seek the training that they require.
Are you a recovering micro-manager? How did you stop the cycle?
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and coach. She holds the role of Senior Consultant at Allied Talent and also serves as the Director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors.