As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest dangers is to give in to the temptation of becoming a micromanager of some, if not all, aspects of your business. After all, it’s your company, so you know it better than anyone else, and you also have the biggest stake in its future. But micromanaging can be demoralising, both for the person doing it and for those on the receiving end, and, ultimately, it’s counterproductive to achieving your goals.
How do you know if you’re a micromanager?
• Do you insist on controlling the small details of a project you don’t need to be involved in?
• Do you criticise other people’s work after it’s completed?
• Do you go looking for what your team has missed?
• Is it hard for you to give your team the freedom and autonomy to make mistakes?
• Do you always feel as though you can do it better than they can?
If two or more of these sound like you, keep reading to find out how to avoid the micromanagement trap.
Getting trapped in the details.
Of course, there are some legitimate circumstances in which you need to pay close attention to what your team members are doing—for instance, during training. However, if this becomes your overall management style, it can effectively discourage your team from becoming more capable and giving you the support you want and need. Perhaps even more critically, micromanaging can keep you trapped in day-to-day operational details, preventing you from growing the business and focusing on new opportunities.
When you’re a micromanager, the fear that your team is missing important details, and the frustration that you always have to be the one to point them out, are emotions you have to live with daily. These feelings can put you at war with the people who work for you, creating suspicion and defensiveness on both sides. While it can be frustrating to watch your team make mistakes, remember that these mistakes will help them learn, gain confidence, and become more successful in the long run.
What great team members want.
For team members, the impact of being micromanaged is also significant. Really great team members want direction, autonomy, and support. When providing direction turns into dictating, team members stop contributing their own creativity and instead rely only on yours because they think that’s what you want. Being micromanaged makes them feel like they’re not trusted to do their jobs well, which undermines their confidence. As a result, they become hesitant to take risks or initiative, or to be proactive—key characteristics of successful entrepreneurial team members. They play it safe and stop looking for new and better ways to do things.
This lowers their productivity as they constantly look back over their work instead of looking ahead to new opportunities, wasting precious mental energy and creativity.
Get your wisdom down on paper.
So what’s a strategy to help keep micromanagement mayhem at bay? Effectively communicate your standards around particular situations so your team knows what you expect and can benefit from the wisdom of your experience.
It can be challenging to translate your experience to your team, but when you share your wisdom for them to use as the foundation for their own learning, they have a platform to leap from. You’ll want to get your wisdom down on paper so your team will be able to follow it without your being there.
You can do this using a tool from The Strategic Coach Programme called The Impact Filter. If you haven’t used this tool yet, here’s a synopsis of the process:
1. Start by thinking about a situation you tend to micromanage—for instance, how you want new business processed.
2. Then think about the best examples of a time when this was well handled and a time when it was not. By comparing the best and worst situations, you’ll start to see which elements make the most difference to you.
3. These are your criteria for this particular situation, and you can then share these criteria with your team so everyone’s on the same page.
This is intellectual capital that your team can use to implement your best thinking. It gives you, and everyone on your team, confidence about what’s most important, and provides a much faster way to evaluate their results. As long as they achieve the result you’ve both agreed on, they’re freed up to get it done their way rather than worrying about doing it your way. Having these standards and getting out of the way to let your team achieve the results means everyone has the freedom to use their Unique Ability to build a bigger and better future.
If your team understands your standards and criteria, and you still feel compelled to check up on them, you may either need to hire a manager who will handle the day-to-day direction, or consider whether you’re just using this as a distraction from what you really need to be focusing on. It’s a lot like getting caught up in Buffer activities and losing sight of Focus activities.
Another way to get back on track is to review your weekly strategic projects to make sure you’re focusing on your most important opportunities. Don’t use your team as an excuse! It may even be that you’re bored and need to set more challenging goals that really engage you. If this is the case, set up meetings with your top clients and have a D.O.S. Conversation with each of them about their goals and the issues they’re facing.
Freed up to focus on maximising opportunities.
All of this will refocus you in the right direction—using your Unique Ability to solve problems and maximise opportunities for your clients and customers. By shifting your focus in this way, you can simply manage, instead of micromanage, with none of the fear, frustration, or distrust that may have characterised the relationship you had with your team.