Micromanaging is a task that many new emerging leaders and even seasoned leaders are guilty of committing. Officially it’s the management style where a leader, excessively supervisors their employees. Maybe you think you’re just actively managing your team (but the team are rolling their eyes because they feel completely micromanaged). How do you know if you’re micromanaging?  In this episode, you’ll hear my own experiences as a A1 micromanager (embarrassing but true), solid examples of what micromanaging is, and what you can apply today to be a more constructive leader.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] About seven years ago, I was the Human Resources Director for a construction and engineering firm. And my leadership style of my team, the Human Resources Team was one of two things. I would flip between, the idea of complete freedom – giving them the goal and letting them work out how to get there, and complete micromanaging. I kind of felt like this was a line where this freedom goes on one end and micromanaging on the other, and I would go between the two. More recently I’ve realized that it’s actually a triangle as opposed to a line. And there is a third point. But let me first tell you a little bit about how I would go between these two different leadership styles and the impact it had on my team. So the example of complete freedom, it could also be known as a passive leadership style. So they would have complete freedom, for example, if they were going about recruiting and they’d show me at the end, who was to be hired. And what I’d found is, although my personal style was to let them have the freedom to go about this recruitment their own way, once they got to the end and had chosen the final candidates with the managers, I didn’t agree. And it was really hard to come in at the end and then want to veto. And so we had to learn a way to better set expectations and manage expectations for not just the growth and satisfaction from my team member, but also for the business. 

[00:01:27] Once I’d had this experience of passive leadership with my team, where I gave complete freedom and realize that didn’t work, and it was very unfair to come at the end and veto, I then went completely in the opposite direction and micromanaged. I got them to show me all the resumes. I sat on the interviews. I would talk to the managers. And I look back at this and really cringe because I did it separately to my team because I wanted to help, but I was making them feel like, why should I bother in managing this recruitment, if Kate’s just going to come in and run it anyway. And so that complete micro-managing didn’t work either because I wanted to be involved in everything and there was no autonomy for my team. So if you think this a complete passive style and complete micro-managing style is on a line, and you flip between the two, it can be hard to see a way out of it.

[00:02:18] I want to reframe this idea instead of it being a line, that it’s actually a triangle. We have passive or complete freedom on one corner, another corner is micromanaging and the third corner is constructive leadership. Okay. It’s a triangle that they’re not corners but you get the idea. There’s three points and I want you to move towards this idea of constructive leadership instead of bouncing between complete freedom and complete micromanaging. 

[00:02:40] I’m sure we’ve all had experiences where we’ve had a micromanaging leader or we’ve had someone that’s jumped at the end and vetoed all that work and it is not inspiring to work with. So let’s talk a little bit today about how we can go about micromanaging less and being more constructive in our leadership. 

[00:02:57] As a leader, you’re juggling your own stuff plus overseeing a team with all of their stuff too. And it’s a big challenge to keep everyone motivated and set them up for success while avoiding taking on too much of yourself and burning out because often we’ve been the expert and we do our job and everybody else’s job. 

[00:03:13] We need to step into this leadership position and it can be a slippery slope. So keeping your team confident, productive, responsible with their own projects and making sure their tasks don’t end up on your plate too which is what happens when we micromanage) it’s one of the most common delegating struggles that I see leaders dealing with. 

[00:03:32] You want to see your team succeed, but don’t need to be a nitpick hovering boss. It doesn’t feel good for anyone, but no one actually teaches this stuff when they promote 

[00:03:41] you 

[00:03:41] from being an expert to being the leader of the team. Or if you’re owning your business to being the CEO and having a team. 

[00:03:48] I’m going to talk to you about how to figure out how to avoid that trap for your team’s sanity and for yours. Because you don’t have time to take back all the things you delegated to other people anyway. 

[00:03:58] So what is micromanagement truly? Is it bad? Yeah, examples. Let’s do it. 

[00:04:06] Micromanaging is a task that many new emerging and even seasoned leaders are guilty of committing. It’s really easy to fall into this habit. So many of my private clients and those that are doing my program Solo to CEO, really struggled with this, but the goal is to find a way to lead your team that doesn’t cause potential harm to the team and company culture. 

[00:04:27] Officially it’s the management style where a leader, excessively supervisors their employees. The manager usually tells and shows the employee how to do their task instead of setting clear expectations from the beginning and letting the employee have the autonomy to work on their own. 

[00:04:42] Basically, they take back the work and do it themselves, but they make the team member believe that they have responsibility for it. They don’t. So why does it happen? It could be a few reasons. One, a lack of clarity in what you want from this specific project. Two. An inability to clearly communicate the goals and the benchmarks. Or three, a trust issue. You’re so attached to the work that your business does that. You worry, no one else is going to be able to do it to those high standards. It feels like your worth is directly linked to the results of the team, and that’s pretty scary. But the most common reason that it happens is we’re just not taught how to delegate and how to lead. 

[00:05:23] So we either do it ourselves or somebody else does it. Neither of those options are a good option. Like I said, did this, we want the triangle, this third option, the Constructive Leadership. 

[00:05:33] It’s really easy to forget that trust is the foundation of a good working relationship. If you do not trust the employees, they will know it and they will not be motivated to give their best. And if you’re constantly questioning them, which is what happens when we micromanage, they feel like they can’t really do anything right, and it will stifle their morale. 

[00:05:52] On top of that, if you don’t know how to communicate project goals or give your team the support they need to succeed, you’re going to feel stuck taking back the work every single time. 

[00:06:01] So how do you know if you’re being too micromanagy with your team? Here are some signs that it is happening: 

[00:06:09] You request to be copied in on every email. You feel compelled to be involved in every decision being made at, during a project, even minor ones. You provide overly specific task directions, leaving no room for input or initiative. You look at every detail, rather than focusing on a big picture perspective. You step into the middle of projects when they haven’t asked for the support and take over rather than managing them and the outcomes. 

[00:06:37] So, if you think you’re doing this, the good news is you can learn how to become a better leader. Because leaders are trained, they’re not born. But firstly, why micro-managing doesn’t work. 

[00:06:48] When you hover your team’s shoulder, as they work, they don’t feel trusted. Their confidence decreases and they rely on your constant direction to get things done, perpetuating the problem of your endless to-dos. So not to scare you, but negative impacts of micro-managing can lead to lower productivity, less than stellar results, mistrust and communication burnt-out staff and leaders. It’s not a good equation for success. 

[00:07:14] So, how do you motivate your team without managing every detail of what they’re doing? 

[00:07:19] Good leaders communicate clear expectation, implement proven systems and motivate their teams to work towards their goals. This is the Constructive Leadership style that I spoke about the third point in the triangle. 

[00:07:31] So, how can you encourage an energize your team? In my leadership coaching, I suggest regular check-ins with your team that are scheduled. It’s not the typical kind of mind-numbing micro-managing meetings where you review their to do list or examine their current work. 

[00:07:47] That is boring and not effective. 

[00:07:50] When you have this check-in conversation with them, do you do these three things. First? Have a general check-in. Check in with them on how things are going in life. Sometimes there’s something happening outside work that we should be aware of that can impact their day-to-day work. 

[00:08:07] Also, you want to care about your employees, not just as people that do tasks for you. 

[00:08:13] The second thing in the conversation, get them to talk you through their goals and make sure they’re in alignment with the goals. Because we want to make sure that they’re doing the goals, not tasks. We don’t want to be caught up in busy work, doing things that fill up our time. Anyone can be busy. We want to make sure that the things that they’re working on, are the things that we want them working on and the purposeful things. 

[00:08:36] And the third thing, check in how they’re going with those goals and how you can support them. So those three things again, first general check-in, second, talk me through your goals and make sure they’re in alignment with the goals that you set in the company goals, and third, ask them how they going with her goals and how you can support them with the goals. 

[00:08:57] We don’t want to know where the tasks they’re doing, because that is the busy work. You can get them to lead the conversation and tell you what they need, instead of you asking all the questions. 

[00:09:09] Your role as the leader is to lead them to their goals, not manage their activities. 

[00:09:14] I’ll repeat that. Your role is to lead them to their goals, not manage their activities. 

[00:09:20] So perhaps in this episode, you’ve realized that you have been doing some micro-managing, we all do it, as you heard in my story. But there is a really great quote from Maya Angelou, which says: do the best you can until you know, better. And when you know, better. Do better. 

[00:09:42] So the good news is, you know, a little bit more about micro-managing. And so here’s the next step to do better. The first step, recognizing that this management style micro-managing isn’t effective. You know that now. 

[00:09:57] Next, plan when and how you’re checking with your team and stick to it. There’s a ton you can tactically do too. And if you’re ready to start delegating like a total rockstar leader or a constructive leader, which is the title I used earlier, you can check out my Delegation Playbook, which is a download of plug and play templates. 

[00:10:17] But if you’re not sure if you’re ready to hire a team yet, specifically, if it’s your own business, you muscle might want to check out my free masterclass Time to Hire. It’s guidance for becoming at a confidence CEO. So instead of being the order taker, you start showing up as the boss of your business. 

[00:10:33] Those two links, the Delegation playbook, and the Time To hire a master Class are both in the show notes for this episode. And remember you don’t need to do this all alone. There is an easier way. From this complete freedom style of leadership where you feel like they’re not hitting the goals that you wanted or micro-managing leadership, and it is constructive leadership. 

[00:10:55] And I look forward in future episodes to teach you more about that. Thanks for listening. 

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