Why micromanaging doesn’t work

Most people have experienced a boss who is always looking over their shoulder, and who doesn’t seem to trust them to carry out the smallest task on their own. But as Richard Branson points out, a successful entrepreneur needs to know when to let people get on with their jobs. What’s more, micromanaging your employees is likely to be counterproductive, making it difficult for your staff to focus and causing resentment. It’s also a very inefficient way to manage a team, as you will be wasting your own time and theirs without achieving very much. So if you find yourself tempted to micromanage, here’s how to avoid it …

Hire the right people. This is where it all starts. If you incorporate the right people into your team, you’ll be able to confidently allow them to get on with their work. A manager needs to know how to delegate, rather than hover over their team instructing them every step of the way. If you’ve chosen your team well, they’ll not only be efficient and committed, but will also work well together to achieve a common goal.

Trust your team. If you’ve chosen the right people to work with, they are perfectly capable of getting the job done without you leaning over them every step of the way. Show them you trust them to carry out their role, and give them the space to work on their tasks. If the process breaks down somewhere along the line, only then do you need to step in. Identify what went wrong and where improvement is needed. Otherwise, don’t use your time fruitlessly by checking up on them every step of the way.

Listen to people. One thing that people often find very frustrating is feeling that their manager doesn’t listen to them. But listening is just as important as trusting. If you take the trouble to hear their opinions and comments, you’ll learn more about what is happening than if you’re constantly checking up on what they’re doing and instructing them on every little thing they do. Your team will have very useful ideas on how their work could be facilitated, and what improvements could be made.

Ensure they know their responsibilities. Some micromanagers try to take on too much, or fail to clarify just who in the team is responsible for each task. And a lack of clarity creates a mess where tasks are duplicated while others are missed altogether. Ensure that your team know exactly what their individual responsibilities are.

What do you expect from them? If you want your team to perform well, and not to need your direct supervision every step of the way, make sure that they understand just what is expected of them. Communication is vital for the smooth running of a company. Don’t leave your team floundering around, uncertain, and in need of constant guidance.

Understand their perspective. A good manager can put themselves in the position of their staff and see things from their point of view. It’s frustrating for your team to feel that you don’t trust them to get on with their work, and leads to resentment. Think how you’d have felt before you were promoted, if your then boss had tried micromanaging you. Chances are you’d have felt annoyed, stressed and resentful, so it’s likely that your team will have the same reaction if you’re monitoring them all the time.

Keep an open mind. Some managers find it hard to let go of responsibilities they used to have, and tend to think that the way they did things is the only possible way. Trust your team and let them try things their own way. There’s more than one way to succeed, and if you give them some autonomy they have every chance of finding a route that works.

Communication is important. You can check in with your team regularly, without making them feel like you’re on their case all the time. Make them aware of goals or changes in plans, and be absolutely clear in your communication. That way, they will know what is expected of them, and will be able to proceed without needing your direct supervision every step of the way.

Learn to let go. Micromanagers can sometimes be control freaks, or motivated by a genuine desire to achieve the best results. Whatever your reasons, learn that being a manager means knowing when to delegate, and trusting your staff to do their jobs well. Learn to let go of the wish to supervise every little detail; it’s not necessary, and often hinders the smooth running of a department or project.