By Evan Vuckovic
(Blog) — The goal of a manager is to remove roadblocks for their team and to focus on the outcomes more than the process. The problem is that many managers today think they are leading, but in reality are actually closer to being labeled as a micromanager manager or helicopter manager. The classic example of a newly promoted manger who is an over-achiever is where most micromangement begins. These new managers have high standards to live up to and expect the same from their employees’, so they have a tendency to hover. Once this becomes a habit, then micromanagers tend to stay in their comfort zone while not realizing the impact of their management style has on their team.
On the other hand, leaders find success by letting go a little bit more which is why their management style is more effective. But what’s the right balance of too much or too little supervision? This blog will help you find the right balance and outline how to stop micromanaging and start leading.
The micromanagement style closely monitors what, when, and how an employee tackles a defined project. By definition, a micromanager is a supervisor that manages employees’ in an excessive manner. For example, the micromanger will tell an employee what needs to be accomplished and by when, then will closely watch how the employee takes action and will provide constant feedback of the employee’s progress and processes.
Under most circumstances, micromanagers usually fall into one of the three categories: 1) they aren’t aware of their tendencies to micromanage, 2) they are afraid of failure, or 3) lack trust. Either the outcome, micromangers more often than not have the companies best interest top of mind and don’t understand the impact of micromanagement at the employee level. Not only does micromanagement increase employee stress, but it also takes away from employee independence. A lack of independent thought destroys original and creative thinking in terms of the project itself and how it’s to be accomplished. While successful leaders focus on the what, they also tend to let their team decide on the how.
Leadership doesn’t come easy and there is a balance to becoming an effective leader. While there are a lot of different management styles, effective managers know how to balance the what (project expectations & check-ins) and leave the how up to the team. Here are 3 ways to become an effective leader:
1. Set expectations from the start — the more you define a project from the beginning, the less you will feel the need to step-in and micromanage. Before assigning the task and setting your team or employee on their way, make sure you ask questions to verify they clearly understand your expectations
2. Balance how you check in — be aware of how long you wait before checking-in on the team or an employee’s process. Try to resist the urge to check-in until about 65% of the way through the previously defined timeline. This brings benefits to both you and the team since it provides you time to focus on your work, while also communicating to your team (or employee) that you trust them.
3. Pump the brakes — successful leaders not only check-in fewer times over the course of a project, but they also check-in in different ways each time they do. Sometimes an email or message will be sufficient, while other times stopping by in person will be more effective. When checking-in, make sure you’re not strictly evaluative, but to also offer help. Leaders will ask if things are good and on track. They will also ask if there’s anything they can help with to ensure that the project is a success. Remember, it’s the managers job to remove project roadblocks and it’s the job of the team (or employee) to communicate what’s in the way.
When managers let go a little more than they are comfortable with, they are actually leading when they have set clear expectations, along with the occasional check-in. By finding the right balance micromanagers can become leaders. If you’ve been labeled as a micromanager, try to let go some and you just might be surprised by the results.