Be a better leader and motivate your team by NOT micromanaging.
As a leader, you’re juggling your own stuff, plus overseeing a team with all their stuff too!
It’s a big challenge to keep everyone motivated and set them up for success… While avoiding taking on too much yourself and burning out.
One of the slippery slopes?
Keeping your team confident, productive, and responsible with their own projects. And making sure their tasks don’t end up back on your plate too. This is one of the most common delegating struggles that I see leaders dealing with.
You want to see your team succeed but don’t need to be a nit-picky, hovering boss. It doesn’t feel good for anyone, but no one actually teaches this stuff when they promote you from expert status to leader (or business owner to CEO). So let’s figure out how to avoid that trap. For your team’s sanity and yours! You don’t have time to spare to take back all the things you delegated to others anyways. 💛
What is micromanagement truly? Is it bad? Examples, please.
Micromanaging is a task that many new, emerging—and even seasoned—leaders are guilty of committing. It’s easy to fall into this habit. So many of my private and Solo to CEO clients struggle 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.
Officially, it’s the management style where a leader excessively supervises their employees.
The manager usually tells (and shows) the employee how to do their tasks instead of setting clear expectations from the beginning and letting the employee have the autonomy to work on their own. Basically, they take back the work to do it themselves.
Why does this happen? It could be because of:
- A lack of clarity in what you want from a specific project.
- An inability to clearly communicate those goals and benchmarks.
- It also can be a trust issue—you’re so attached to the work that your business does, that you worry no one else will be able to live up to those high standards. It feels like your worth is directly tied to the results of your team. That’s scary!
No wonder some leaders get caught up in this habit.
It’s easy to forget that trust is the foundation of a good working relationship. If you don’t trust your employees, they will know it and not be as motivated to give their best. And if you’re constantly questioning them, they’ll feel like they can’t really do anything right, and it will stifle their morale. 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 time.
So how do you know if you’re being too micromanage-y with your team? Here are some signs this might be happening:
- Request to be copied on every email.
- Feel compelled to be involved in every decision being made during a project (even minor ones).
- Provide overly-specific task directions, leaving no room for input or initiative.
- Look at every detail rather than focusing on the bigger perspective.
- Ask employees to task-switch often with emergency work.
- Step into the middle of projects when they haven’t been asked for support.
Eek! If you think you might be doing this, the good news is that you can learn how to become the leader you want to be. Leaders are trained—not born.
Why micromanaging doesn’t work.
When you hover over your team’s shoulders as they work, they don’t feel trusted, and their confidence decreases. Then they rely on your constant direction to get things done, perpetuating the problem of your endless to-dos.
Not to scare you, but the negative effects of micromanagement can lead to:
- Lower productivity.
- Less-than-stellar results.
- Mistrust and miscommunication.
- Burnt out staff and leaders.
😞 Not a good equation for success!
How do you motivate your team without managing every detail of what they’re doing?
Good leaders communicate clear expectations, implement proven systems, and motivate their teams to work towards their goals.
So, how can you encourage and energize your team?
In my leadership coaching, I suggest regular check-ins with your team. But not the typical kind of mind-numbing, micromanage-y meetings where you review their “to-do” list or examine their current work. Yawn! (and not effective)
The trap with this format is that they could be doing work that isn’t aligned with their goals (or the company’s). It could be ‘busy’ work. And ‘busy’ work doesn’t mean productive work.
Instead, try flipping the conversation:
- General check-in. How’s life?
- Talk me through your goals. Check they’re in alignment with company goals.
- How are you going with these goals? What can I do to support you?
Get them to lead the conversation and tell you what they need.
Your role is to lead them to their goals, not manage their activities!
Be a better leader without micromanaging.
Are you a serial micromanager? Or don’t want to fall into that trap in the first place?
Do the best you can until you know better.
Then when you know better, do better.”
Great news—now you know a little more about micromanaging, here’s the next steps to do better (thanks Maya Angelou!).
The first step is recognizing that this management style isn’t effective (tick!). Next, plan when and how you’ll check in with your team and stick with it. There’s a ton more you can do tactically too. If you’re ready to start delegation like a total rockstar, check out the Delegation Playbook.
If you’re not sure if you’re ready to hire a team yet, check out my free masterclass, Time to Hire. Guidance for becoming a confident CEO—stop being the order taker, and start showing up as the boss of your business.
Remember that you don’t need to do this all alone. 🥰
Ps. Want to hear more about this topic? Take a listen to Episode 35 on my Level Up Leadership Podcast – Signs Of A Micromanager (Is It You?)