How to become less of a micromanager



Absolutely no one likes to be micromanaged. It’s frustrating, demoralising and demotivating. Yet some managers can’t seem to help themselves. Here’s what to do if you’re a micromanager.

1 Get over yourself

We can all rationalise why we do what we do, and the same holds true for micromanagers. Instead of finding all the reasons why you should micromanage, consider why you shouldn’t.

2  Let it go

The difference between managing and micromanaging is the focus on the “micro”. At the core of moving away from micromanaging is letting go of the minutiae.

This can be hard, but the key is to do it a little at a time. Start by looking at your to-do list to determine what low-hanging fruit you can pass on to a team member. You should also highlight the priorities on your list – the big-ticket items where you truly add value – and make sure that is where you are spending most of your energy.

3  Focus on the “what,” not the “how”

There is nothing wrong with having an expectation about a deliverable. But there’s a difference between sharing that expectation and dictating how to get to that result.

Your job as a manager is to clearly set the conditions of satisfaction for any task you assign. Articulate what you envision the final outcome to look like, but don’t give blow-by-blow instructions on how to get there.

4  Expect to win (most of the time)

Underlying your need to micromanage is a fear of failure. By magnifying the risk of failure, your employees engage in “learned helplessness”, where they start believing that the only way they can perform is if you micromanage them. It’s a vicious cycle.

Instead, get those who report to you to focus on success. Be clear on what success looks like. Provide the resources, information and support needed to meet those conditions. Give credit where credit is due. Over time, you’ll realise that a loss every now and then helps build a strong track record in the long run. – Copyright Harvard Business Review

Previously published in The Irish Times.


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