Stop Micromanaging! Five Tips to Help

Stopping micromanaging or the “my way or the highway” type of managing isn’t easy to do, so here are five points to keep in mind as you work to unleash, not limit, the potential of your team.

Remember you’re a leader first, expert second. When you coach your team members to best apply their knowledge and skills, you’re leading. After all, they are experts too. You don’t need to have all the answers. Shift from being an expert to an expert leader of people. Thomson quotes The Leadership Pipeline as she emphasizes the importance of this transition for new leaders: “The most difficult change for first time managers is to learn to value managerial work rather than tolerate it. They must believe that making time for others is a necessary task and their responsibility.”

Keep to the what, not the how. As a leader it’s your job to assign a problem or task (what has to be done) by clearly describing the desired outcome and all the parameters or constraints that your employees need to work within (e.g., scope, timing, resources, decision-making authority, internal politics). Your team members need to process the information you provide and explore ideas to determine the best course of action. Let them apply their creativity and expertise. Wood suggests advance planning as a way to keep to these boundaries: “One Vice President at our firm realized that by thoroughly planning the what — all the background information he thought his team member needed to know to be successful — it’s much easier for him to let the employee own how the work gets done.” Dana Zarnoch agrees with the recommendation, explaining, “A common mistake is that managers think they’re being clear about what they want only to find that they’re not. When their team member says ‘I get it,’ they actually don’t. It’s a frustrating situation for the manager and the employee. Working on the wrong things when you think you’re working on the right things is incredibly demotivating.”

Provide context. Employees also need to understand why their assignment is critical, explains Zarnoch. “Our research indicates that people want to be part of something bigger. That connection to customer and organizational benefits motivates them to do their best work. In addition, when employees understand the business context they make better decisions.”

Ask open-ended questions and listen. Since you’re not directing employees on the how of a task, you need to explore ideas with them. And despite your best intentions you might find yourself talking a lot about your ideas. Wood’s advice for redirecting the conversation is to ask open-ended questions. She says, “Tell yourself, ‘let me stop my mouth, ask a question, and then listen.’ Your team member will immediately re-engage. It doesn’t have to be an awkward situation.”

Know when to tell. There are times when there may not be a lot of options or room for new ideas. Zarnoch cautions, “If there are regulations that restrict the solution or you’re faced with a situation where you absolutely must be directive, don’t waste your team member’s time exploring ideas. As a leader you need to ask when you can, but tell when you have to.”

Micromanaging is a loss for the organization, a frustration for employees, and a waste of your time as a leader. So remember that the best way to achieve results may not actually be your way.

Original Source: BlessingWhite

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