3 Easy Ways to Stop Micromanaging
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With many teams working remotely and leaders trying to navigate managing those teams and individuals, a topic that has come to the forefront is micromanaging.
Leaders, for the love of all that’s good in the world, stop breathing down people’s necks and getting in their hair. Micromanaging is a sign of incompetence; it’s deflating and absurd. People don’t need babysitting, they need leadership to set clear expectations, give them what they need to be successful, and then stay out of their way.
“People don’t need babysitting, they need leadership to set clear expectations, give them what they need to be successful, and then stay out of their way.”
Trust your people, don’t make them earn it.
Unless they do something to prove otherwise, extend them your trust and confidence.
Start from the premise that the people that you’ve hired are perfectly capable, responsible, accountable adults. Let them do their work without you breathing down their necks to prove that they’re doing it.
Micromanaging is the lowest form of leadership.
“Start from the premise that the people that you’ve hired are perfectly capable, responsible, accountable adults.”
It is a sign of insecurity on the part of leaders, and it also has the complete opposite effect of what it is intended for.
Most leaders micromanage as an attempt to make sure that people are getting their work done and being productive. But all happens as a result is that people feel deflated, frustrated, demoralized and eventually disengaged and resentful that their boss is such a tool.
Tracking their every movement throughout the day, or having them constantly check in and prove that they’re doing work is a waste of everyone’s time.
Here are three ways that leaders can stop micromanaging, and put some intention behind making sure their people don’t feel micromanaged.
1. Ask people what they need, and give it to them.
Your job as a leader is to discover the optimal conditions for your employees to be the most engaged and productive as possible, and then do every single thing in your power to create that environment for them. It’s so simple, and it starts with asking and listening.
For the most part your employees know exactly what they need, so just ask on a regular basis. Find out from your people if they need more communication from you, or less. Are the systems and processes in place for them efficient and useful for them and their time? Are they wasting time with any task that is just purely in place for them prove that they’re being productive? If it is, get rid of it.
Recognize the great irony of wasting people’s time with tasks that are in place just to prove to you that they’re being productive. There are other ways to measure productivity (see #2 below).
“Recognize the great irony of wasting people’s time with tasks that are in place just to prove to you that they’re being productive.”
If your employee requests that you just stay out of their hair and let them do their job, then stay out of their hair and let them do their job. The only reason you ever need to be in someone’s hair is if they aren’t doing their job. If that’s the case, have some discovery around why, and how you can best support them. Don’t preemptively put people on a short leash and be up in their business without significant cause.
Leverage your position as a leader to give your people the working conditions that are optimal for them. It benefits them and your relationship with them which is crucial to people enjoying their jobs, which in turn leads to higher productivity. Win-win.
2. Find other ways to measure performance and productivity.
It can’t be that the only way you can know if people are working is with a daily video call or tracking their movements all day long. Reframe the way that you measure productivity other than just a fake set of optics that give the illusion of them working as opposed to actually measuring what they’re doing. Someone sitting at their desk all day is not an indicator of work being done.
This is not hard to do, and it’s critically important. Are they finishing projects on time, what’s the quality of their work, are they hitting goals and deadlines? Use other metrics to gauge the performance and productivity of your team.
3. Don’t punish your best employees for the poor behavior of your worst ones.
This one happens far too often and it’s easy to avoid.
Prime, real life example: I have a colleague who works on a sales team. Awhile back, there were a couple low performing salespeople on the team, so they implemented a system for the entire sales department of tracking every single sales call and everywhere that they went all day long and notes about the result of that effort. It took 20–30 minutes to complete.
“If you have any low performing employees, address that specifically with them.”
This is ridiculous. Not everybody on the team needed that kind of guidance and oversight. So now the higher performing salespeople who were hitting their goals, crushing it, and doing great now had to waste a bunch of their time filling out these logs to prove that they’re doing their work.
30 minutes a day for 5 days is 2.5 hours every week of completely unproductive time. Plus, the sales people who were hitting goals and being awesome were upset that they now had this babysitting policy in place which not only wasted their time, but felt like someone else’s punishment. Deflating, frustrating.
It’s situational leadership, if you have any low performing employees, address that specifically with them. It’s a huge mistake to create broad policies essentially punish great employees for the behavior of low performers.
That’s it, very simple stuff: Trust your people, ask them what they need and give them the conditions that will optimize their performance and engagement. Empower them to do the jobs that you’ve hired them to do, and just let them do it.
- 19 Ways to Retain Great Employees (4 mins)
- Prioritize & Simplify to Stay Productive at Home (2 mins)
- Working From Home & Building Healthy Boundaries (1 min)
This article was created by Galen Emanuele for the #culturedrop. Free leadership and team culture content in less than 5 minutes a week. Check out the rest of this month’s content and subscribe to the Culture Drop at https://bit.ly/culturedrop