Have you ever started a new job or worked with a new team and realised that you needed to build trust quickly?
Building trust and managing it long term, is one of the...
If there is one insult that a manager dreads, it would have to be being called a micromanager.
When a leader micromanages an employee, it sends an implicit message that they are not trusted. This in turn makes them less likely to trust their boss. Creating a vicious cycle of distrust between employee and manager that results in poor performance and high turnover.
Micromanagement occurs for various reasons. In my line of work, I often see it rampant among technical people who feel validated by their technical prowess. They often have trouble letting go and having others do the work well. Sometime this is because they tend to not train their direct reports that well or communicate unclearly. The result is that they get frustrated and have to step in and save the day.
It can also be a symptom of leaders under pressure to deliver in an environment of blame and shame. The need to get it right or be on the firing line can create a culture of micromanagement. Which is extremely damaging to morale and getting results.
If you talk to a leader who has been labelled a micromanager, they will say they have trouble dealing with the tension between attention to detail and letting things go. That they want to do the best work for clients and struggle with how to balance their expectations on people.
Such a perspective makes it hard to know what to do if you have a tendency to have high standards of work. But there is good news.
Micromanagement is not a personality or leadership flaw. It is not even a leadership training issue. It’s a failure in the basics of delegation.
In other words, it's a communication problem.
Reducing micromanagement tendencies requires working on two different areas. The first part is learning about how to trust others and loosen up the reins, while the second is to learn how to delegate more appropriately.
Micromanagement is a choice. It’s up to the manager to break the habit of micromanagement and control. It involves learning to empower others to do their best work and give them the autonomy to do tasks the way they think best within some clearly specified constraints. It's about learning to foster ownership rather than default into micromanagement.
Developing the right mindset is crucial and it requires self-awareness of your own communication style. I use Drake’s P3 tool when I coach leaders. It provides in-depth reports on communication style with suggested behavioural adjustments a manager can take toward a more open, positive relationship with team members.
The second part is learning how to delegate more effectively. I use what I call a briefing framework. When I left University, I started my career as a market research consultant. Every project I worked on started with a brief that stated the research objectives, methodology, client deliverables and due dates. Micromanagement was never an issue because everyone knew exactly what to do because they had a brief.
I have used this framework in all of my subsequent careers and in pretty much everything I need done in my business (including building a home!) It has never failed me.
The benefit of a brief is that it removes uncertainty and ambiguity in a task. When people don’t know what’s expected of them or get confused, they tend to go off in the wrong direction or freeze. Essentially a briefing conversation is an opportunity for open and honest two-way dialogue between the manager and direct report to get to a shared understanding of the project. Clearing away any potential derailments or confusion.
Micromanagement often originates from the desire to do exceptional client work. But it can do a lot of damage to relationships and reduce productivity. Learning to reduce control freak tendencies and how to delegate work effectively are critical skills of high trust leaders.