How to Stop Micromanaging
and Still Achieve Your Goals

See also: Management Skills Self-Assessment

“Micromanaging” may not be a four-letter word, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a bad one in the workplace. Leading through iron-fisted control — or the fear of losing that control — benefits no one. The drawbacks, on the other hand, are significant.

Micromanagement stifles both morale and productivity. It undermines employees’ confidence in their skills and abilities while creating unnecessary stress that affects both mental and physical health. Finally, it erodes the precious trust between managers and their staff.

The goal of good managers is to provide inspiration, support, and resources that enable successful work to happen — not to do the work themselves. However, working on themselves is a whole other story. By developing their soft skills, these leaders can keep the bigger picture in mind, something that’s hard to do if you’re holding a tight grip on minute details. Luckily, it’s possible to learn to let go of control while positively influencing business outcomes.

This article will explore some ways to develop the soft skills needed to keep your micromanaging in check and still achieve your goals.

Clearly Define Goals and Roles 

Clearly defining and communicating goals and roles is a crucial move in preventing micromanagement. By leaning into developing your communication skills, you can minimize confusion and ensure that team members understand overarching objectives as well as their individual responsibilities in advancing them. Understanding how their work relates to the whole will empower employees to think creatively and try innovative approaches.

Rather than getting mired in the details, focus on strategic alignment. Keep internal and external stakeholders on the same page with a thorough explanation of your values, objectives and the path forward. With a well-defined vision, team members can progress with confidence and autonomy. When goals and roles are clear, everyone knows exactly what is expected of them, making micromanagement unnecessary.

Know and Trust Your Team

As a manager, you must get to know your team members. Every employee brings to the table a unique combination of strengths and areas for improvement. Understanding your team allows you to better delegate tasks, set expectations, and define essential benchmarks for measuring progress.

Just as necessary is trusting the abilities and aptitudes of your employees. Maintaining strict oversight of your staff might feel comforting at the time. However, this sends the message that you aren’t confident your employees can do their jobs adequately. No one feels good when constantly put under a microscope.

Instead, begin by building trust in yourself. Trust that your own judgment in selecting your employees was sound. Give them the information, resources, and support they need to succeed. Trust is an essential soft skill for building strong relationships and fostering a workplace culture of collaboration and teamwork. The more you believe in your employees, the more they will trust you and your guidance.

Maintain Open Dialogue

Open and transparent communication is a great way to diminish the urge to micromanage. Thoroughly communicate the “whats” and “whys” of projects to ensure everyone stays aligned. However, you can leave the “hows” up to your team to discover and develop. Not all employees are created equal in what they need regarding details and direction, though. After delegating tasks, you might try asking, “What do you need from me to succeed?”

As a leader, develop your leadership presence skills by setting regular check-ins to track progress and exchange feedback. Be available to answer questions or help troubleshoot when necessary. Even in organizations that have trended toward remote work, it is still possible to maintain an open-door policy.

Get Curious About Yourself

As with most things in life, real change starts from within. If you are a micromanager who wants to change your erring ways, get curious about what drives you and what boundaries you should set to encourage change. Maybe you are a new manager and still unsure of your managerial footing so you join groups to learn more from others who are in your position. Perhaps it’s perfectionism that’s behind your need for rigid control so you need to reset your expectations. Maybe you have a hard time prioritizing and therefore making lists once a week could be the boundary to set.

Whatever the case, self-knowledge, while not always comfortable, is always beneficial. It’s also perfectly acceptable to solicit feedback directly from your team. But make sure you’re ready to receive it — and act on it! It’s a relational best practice to take accountability and make amends for any harm done to others. With this information, you can adjust your management style and give your employees what they need to thrive.

Use the Right Tools

With soft skills established, leaning into hard skills can be an additional step to take to crush your micromanagement habit. Technology can be a great preventer of micromanagement. There are tons of great tools to keep everyone connected and on course without having to breathe down anyone’s neck. Robust team communication platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams offer both synchronous and asynchronous communication methods. Project management tools like ClickUp and Trello let you delegate tasks and track the progress of deliverables. You can also beef up your analytics and reporting to catch looming issues before they become bigger problems.

The right applications help you gain visibility into what your team is doing without getting tangled up in minutiae. Keeping your team unified and linked to their shared goals is important. Technology gives you a way to monitor progress from a distance while still feeling fully looped in.

Micromanaging can have devastating effects on both a manager and their team. Letting go is never easy, but failing to do so is far more damaging to your team’s performance. Discover what is behind your need for control and work on developing the soft skills that can combat those. Build trust in and with your team and focus on solid two-way communication, whether that’s in person or done remotely. Use tools and technology to do some of the heavy lifting so you can stay informed without getting bogged down by details. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but these suggestions will put you on your way to being the manager your team deserves.

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About the Author

This article was provided by Jessica Lopez.