Micromanagement is like eating a chocolate bar. It’s tempting and rewarding, but can be damaging too. The trick is to have good portion control. The extreme opposite of micromanagement is what Forbes contributor, Travis Bradberry, calls abdication management, which is pretty much what it sounds like. CEOs and managers become completely hands off, often for fear of being pegged as a micromanager. They only get involved when a problem arises, and when problems are the focus of all communication there is tension, leading to strained relationships. The key is to strike a balance between the two. But how?
Communicate, don't dictate
Tell your team what your vision is, but don’t control how they get there.You know how you would do it, and you probably think it’s the best way, but chances are it’s not. Certain things work for some people but not for others. There may be a more efficient and effective way of completing a task for different types of people. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be specific about what you want. Owner of Staff.com, Liam Martin, says "When you delegate tasks to others, the orders shouldn't be easy to understand—they should be impossible to misunderstand." Tell the people what you want and remind them of your vision periodically to keep them on the right track.
If possible, let your team decide how and when to report progress to you based on how they work. If you need a little more control than that, set benchmarks or milestones for when you want to check in with your team. This would be better than daily or weekly check-ins which could potentially slow down the team and have adverse effects in terms of productivity. If you see that a project is heading towards the wrong direction, don’t be afraid to put your team back on track. However, do so by advising, not by making the changes yourself. Changing things yourself makes it seem like you don’t trust your team to do what you hired them to do. Giving your team constructive feedback at check-in points is a great way to steer them towards your desired end-goal.
Hire and trust
When hiring a team, know what you want: characteristics, values, skillsets, etc. Most importantly, stick to what you want. If it takes 500 applications and 200 interviews, so be it. This could even mean you leave the position unfilled for a while until you find the one. Being loyal to your values will have large payoffs in the long run. Hire a team that’ll get the work done, and then trust them to do it! Remember that you hired these people for a reason. They were the ones who stood out through the multiple interviews. Founder of LocalVox, Trevor Sumner, says "If you have a direct report who can do a task 80 percent as well as you can, you need to let them do it." Let your employees come to you if they have questions or want to be evaluated. The last thing you want to be known as is the helicopter-manager.
Involve employees in decision-making
Or better yet, let them make some of the decisions. It will be difficult at first, but will become easier with practice and time. Letting others make decisions empowers them and leads them to take responsibility for their own actions. They gain a feeling of ownership and are more motivated to do their best work, whether that means a few extra hours in the office or going the extra mile to get a tedious task done.
Follow the golden rule
Treat people like you want to be treated. One of the worst effects of micromanaging is demarking a line between ‘me’ or ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Your company should work as a ‘we’ in order to produce driven employees who will take initiative and strive for perfection.
Aya Tsuruta is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly where she covers sales and marketing content through a creative lens. In addition to writing for Repsly, she is a frequent contributor to the music blog, Indie Music Filter, and BC magazine, the Gavel.