Alright full disclosure, this is a way bigger topic than I’m going to cover off in a quick blog post. But it is a topic I hear come up from leaders again and again and again so I wanted to put a few tips, tricks and tactics here to help.
Micromanaging… also known as the ‘Illusion of Full Control’... is incredibly seductive as a leader. It gives you this false sense of security, of control, of being ‘on top of things’. It allows you to not have to do the hard work of giving clear instruction, or have the uncomfortable feedback conversations. And of course it contributes to low motivation, high turnover, poor quality and subpar customer service.
In short… I hate to tell you, not only is it the easy way out, it’s also actively harming your business and your ability to hit your goals. And leaves you feeling utterly exhausted, frustrated and burnt out. So the best of all worlds (sense sarcasm here please!).
But I’m not going to beat you up about this. Because I know from experience that building trust in your team, giving the space for a team member to completely screw up and then having to help clean up the mess, is incredibly hard and scary. This is not easy stuff we’re talking about… it’s simple, but not easy.
Here’s the biggest mistaken beliefs I see when it comes to micromanaging, and a tactic to begin overcoming each of these hurdles.
Belief 1: Trust is Earned Not Given
This is a slippery one because it seems so common sense… but trust simply doesn't work that way. It’s a chicken and egg game - you have to give people trust they haven’t yet earned, so they CAN earn even greater trust. You have to go on faith, on the assumption that they will do the best they can, and keep building the trust incrementally over time.
Now, this is not to say that on someone’s first day in your employment you should have them present your year end earnings to your stakeholders. Not what I mean by ‘incremental trust’. What I mean is give them a real piece of work, with real stakes and expectations, help and support along the way… and you HAVE to be prepared to let them fail. You have to.
A big part of this is trusting yourself as the leader to give useful feedback and address performance issues as they come up. Not easy, but key to building that trust, and beginning to throttle back on micromanaging.
Belief 2: They Have to Do It My Way
Here’s what I need to you to get absolutely clear on in your team or business: What are Standards and what are Deliverables.
Standards are something that absolutely has to be done in the same repeatable way across your business due to quality, safety or brand recognition. This option should be used very sparingly whenever possible, it is the ‘How You Do This Thing’.
Deliverables are different. They are outcomes or results that depend on a person solving a problem or dealing with a customer. Basically using their brain to come up with a solution or engage a stakeholder. THIS is where you NEVER ever tell an employee HOW to do it. This is where you say WHAT the outcome is, what ‘Good Work’ looks like, and let them have a run at it.
Here’s why this is key… the minute you start explaining ‘HOW’ to do something, you are in micromanagement land. Unless it is a Standard that is an absolute key to your business goals, you HAVE to let go, allow the person to figure it out, and come to you for coaching and mentoring.
Always set clarity on WHAT needs to be done… leave the HOW to your capable intelligent team member. You did hire them for a reason after all.
Belief 3: They Need to Care as Much as I Do
“How do I hire people who care as much as I do?”
In short: You don’t.
This is one of the most annoying pervasive myths I see out there, this bizarre concept that your team members need to put in the same level of effort, care, passion and energy that you do.
Seriously stop and just think about that for a second. Do they make the same salary as you? Same bonus? Same access to information? Same ability to make decisions? Same share percentage?
If the answer to any of the above is No, then OF COURSE they are NOT going to care as much as you. That’s lunacy.
Now, they should care. You should absolutely have crystal clear expectations on work results you expect, quality targets, customer interaction guidelines, boundaries on what is ok and what is not ok in your team.
But to expect them to have the same exact level of ‘caring’ as you, is setting yourself up to regularly be disappointed and setting your team members up to always feeling like they’re falling short.
Have high expectations… just don’t have unrealistic ones.
There’s a handful of points that may start to turn the tide for you on your journey from micromanager to kickass confident leader. It’s not easy, it really isn’t, but I promise you it’s worth it.