How to Avoid Micromanagement at Work?


Micromanagement steps in when management starts getting involved more than usual. This happens when the manager tries to control every element of a work process, from inception to delivery. Monitoring progress is no sin, but being a control freak is a different story.

One of the key traits of good leaders or managers is that they have great communication and collaboration skills, especially with their teams. Teams look forward to mentors who show interest and give appropriate and timely feedback. In fact, 65% employees look forward to more management feedback.

Some of the signs your environment may be witnessing this are if the managers dictate exactly how to do a task, even if it doesn’t affect the results, never let employees take full ownership of a task, or manage experienced, skilled teams the same way as the novice, less experienced ones.

You get the picture. If you think your management skills maybe going sidetracked to micromanagement, this blog is for you. Curb it before it takes over.

Delegate Authority

Once you assign tasks to teams, it is better to give them enough time and space to learn and manage on their own. While you can assure your availability in times of difficulty, by no means keep checking on them every 5 minutes, just in case they need help.

Research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology depicts that people that feel they are being watched perform at an inferior level.

Such employees tend to get distracted and it affects working memory.

Plus, by monitoring too closely, you may be enabling learned helplessness of your team. Soon, they’ll depend on you for everything, without taking initiatives and self-help.

In fact, Aaron Levy of Raise The Bar Consulting gives a great tip, which is to increase your response time. For example, if your typical response time is three minutes, wait for 30. This way, usually by the time you would have responded, they would’ve already come up with a solution.

Hire the Right People

Lack of trust is one of the primary reasons managers tend to rely on micromanagement. This mistrust can be either on the employee’s motivation to get the job done or capability. Either way, you can avoid these situations in the first place by hiring the right people for the job.

According to Alicia Reece from The Reece Group, when leaders have the best talent with the right capabilities, they can delegate with trust while conducting progress check-ins.

Take a look at RadioFlyer, the well-known maker of children’s wagons. At RadioFlyer, accountability is a core value. Potential job candidates are screened on their ability to proactively seek required information and feedback, and whether they strive to accomplish team goals.

Involve the Team

Try to get your team involved in goal-setting processes. This means that instead of you solely deciding what your team should achieve and how to achieve it, let your team tell you what goals they can meet and how they plan to do so.

Loren Margolis at Training & Leadership Success LLC recommends getting clear on your employee’s skill level i.e. their ability to complete each task and will level i.e. their motivation. Work together to decide the direction so you don’t have to micromanage.

Vladimir Gendelman is the founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc. He recommends that managers should try acting more like facilitators with open communication rather than taskmasters hovering over employees.

ALSO READ: 3 Ways to Collaborate Better Within a Team

Articulate Expectations Clearly

Miscommunication can lead to unnecessary project mishaps or even failures, affecting the manager’s reliance on their teams. You can avoid this by being clear from the start of the task.

Before delegating tasks or a project, stay clear on the objectives, the results you are looking for and reference to similar tasks completed in the past. Providing examples, tools, and resources wherever you can is even better. Frequent feedback can keep team assured they are on the right track.

For instance, employees at Hoar Construction, a construction management firm, are evaluated twice annually. They receive thorough feedback and during evaluations, new goals are determined.

Or take the example of FatWallet, the Illinois-based online discount clearinghouse. Managers and employees set “Key Performance Indicators” at the start of each quarter to re-evaluate goals and progress.

Would you like to share any tips on how to tackle micromanagement? Let us know in the comments below.



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