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Stop Micromanaging Your Employees

Set goals and define expectations instead!

In coaching a number of managers over the last couple of years, I have found that many of them micromanage employees because they have not defined expectations or collaborated with employees to set goals. For new managers, in particular, they may not know how to delegate effectively; thereby defaulting to micromanaging. For one new supervisor I coached, he felt that as the boss he was obligated to dictate the specifics of how to complete a task – step by step. He believed that he alone had to make every little decision about a project.

The following are indicators of micromanaging:

  • Constantly checking in on an employee’s progress on a task
  • Taking on all of the work, never delegating significant work to employees
  • Expecting employees to complete tasks exactly as you want them to, providing step-by-step instructions
  • Only assigning small parts of a task or project, without providing background information or the big picture details thereby requiring them to rely on you
  • Not enabling for autonomy in completing work
  • Not enabling for employees to make any decisions on the work they are doing

Micromanaging has consequences. It impacts the employee, the manager as well as the organization.

Employee Impact

Manager Impact

Organization Impact

  • Low morale
  • Reduced productivity
  • Stress and frustration
  • Feeling incompetent and not valued
  • Inability to focus on what’s really important – such as strategy
  • Inability to retain and engage top talent
  • Inability to meet goals
  • Reduced innovation in group
  • Lower productivity
  • Decreased revenues
  • Inability to retain and attract top talent
  • Reduction in innovation

Stop micromanaging!

In order to focus your efforts on the more important things you have as a manager, and less on micromanaging your employees, do the following:

  • Get comfortable with employees. What are their strengths? Where do they need to develop? What are their professional goals? Once you get to know your employees, you will be more comfortable assigning them work that relies on their strengths. Meet one-on-one to accomplish this. You need to get to know your employees to be comfortable with them.
  • Collaborate with your employees to set goals – what needs to be achieved for the department and how can they contribute to achieving those goals? What assignments should be completed or projects undertaken?
  • Set expectations with employees – what are your expectations of the employees in their role? What are your expectations around completing work assigned? What is the end result you expect? (Not how to get from Point A to Point B, but rather what do you want to see at Point B.)
  • Not all employees are the same. Ask your employees what they need from you. How much guidance do they need? Set check-in times to review progress based on what works for both you and the employee. Newer, more junior employees may need more guidance and check-ins than more experienced employees.

In summary, get comfortable with your employees, understanding their strengths, development areas and their professional goals. Match assignments and special projects to utilize strengths and provide them what you desire as the end result of the work they are doing. Let them get from Point A to Point B. Set goals to be achieved and collaborate with them on how to achieve those goals; focusing on what assignments, tasks or projects will they undertake.

Read related articles:

Increase Your Comfort Level in Delegating to Employees
Best Practice Steps for Delegating Tasks to Employees
Delegating Best Practices

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