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9 Strategies to Prevent Micromanagement


Everyone truly hates to be micromanaged. Since this is true, you have to wonder why so many managers feel this is the best way to deal with their team members.

You are aware that overbearing, but nonetheless, well intended managers micromanage all the time as they are attempting to optimize performance. The problem is that when you micromanage people, you drastically limit their performance rather than optimizing it, therefore, the manager is actually operating at cross purposes to his/her intended goal. Without meaning to do this, the manager is actually suppressing any incentive for effort and creativity on the part of the team members. This problem is actually very common in many organizations (Bielaszka-DuVernay, Harvard Business Review, June 23, 2008).

In order to gain some insight into how micromanaging actually erodes the trust and rapport so essential to greatly enhanced performance, let’s examine the outcomes from this counterproductive strategy.

lack of trustWhen you micromanage someone it  implies a lack of trust that they can “run with the ball” when they undertake an assignment. The manager appears not to be confident that the employee can or will do the job properly, so he/she besieges the team member with an over-abundance of “helpful” instructions on exactly how to perform the tasks necessary to complete their job.

Initially, the intrusion may be simply irritating to the employee, who has his/her own ideas on how to accomplish the task.  However, after a while, these suggestions degenerate into an opportunity for the team member to completely check out mentally and join the legion of disengaged employees who just do what they are told and collect their paycheck. This leaves the employee’s creativity at the door each day and the company is missing out on the opportunity to hear ideas that could be beneficial to the organization as well as being able to leverage the talents of their people in ways that could even improve the bottom line….a win/win for everyone!

Another drawback is that ultimately, the employees may even try to avoid the micromanaging manager, simply to reduce the aggravation they experience when dealing with them. This can lead to a gradual decline in focus and interest; where the manager receives less and less feedback. When this begins to occur, he/she tries even harder to interject their opinions and directions, which makes the team want to avoid him/her even more.

When you trust an employee by empowering them to take responsibility for their work and allow them to do the job as they see fit; attitude and engagement increase exponentially. In addition, when an employee feels their input is respectfully listened to and considered, their self-esteem and self-confidence grow which means they will likely be more self-motivated to perform at a higher level because they feel appreciated and valued. In an environment of trust, respect and rapport employees feel they have the freedom to explore, innovate, create, stretch, and even make mistakes. These mistakes are opportunities to learn  and should be treated as such, because humans definitely make mistakes!

Below I offer you nine ways that can help you to reduce the tendency to micromanage your team, thus providing greater opportunities for innovation, creativity, productivity, efficiency, and a huge happiness factor in your workplace.

  1. Set clear goals: Be certain that your employees have the basic skills and tools to do their job to the best of their ability.
  2. Be clear on the parameters within which the employee must operate. In other words, give the employee clear directions and a reasonable time line; but let them do the job as they see fit.
  3. Demonstrate trust in the employee’s ability and encourage innovation and daring as long as the risks are well-considered and safe.
  4. Control your temptation to take over if the employee seems to struggle. Instead, make yourself available in a support role in case there are any questions or requests for help.
  5. Provide the resources necessary for the employee to accomplish the tasks required to complete the job.
  6. Do not overload the employee with so many responsibilities and projects that he/she cannot possibly succeed in all of them. This only causes frustration on everyone’s part.
  7. Express praise and acknowledge successes along the way. Humans tend to be quick to point out mistakes but slow to thank for a job well done.
  8. Allow the employee the time and space to try various approaches without having to explain every step along the way….instead accept the outcome no matter how they reached it….as long as it meets the parameters set out at the onset of the project.
  9. If problems or mistakes occur, consider them learning experiences. Then, in a constructive manner, ask the employee to describe how he/she will do things differently in the future.

These nine simple strategies are easily manageable for anyone if employed in a supportive, encouraging manner. However, they can be nearly impossible for a micromanager to accomplish without constant effort and a commitment to allow autonomy for the team members.

The concept of trusting employees may involve some risk, but the rewards from having people reach their full potential rather than just behaving like “disengaged bums in seats” is definitely worth that risk. You will see better, faster, and more creative solutions if you trust people and allow their natural talents, and skills to surface in an environment of trust, respect, and rapport rather than suppressing all of those good attributes in an environment of micromanagement.



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