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How to avoid (and prevent) micromanaging

Project management by nature has a lot of moving parts. One of the biggest challenges for leaders can be keeping all the cogs of a project running smoothly. Managers trying to turn every handle at once risk burnout, low staff morale and a lack of productivity. So, what can be done to keep projects on track?

Here we look at the habits you and your team can adopt, and smart processes you can implement to ensure you meet deadlines with a little less stress.

Share the responsibility

The problem: Responsibility falls on you

The biggest catalyst of micromanagement is that a project’s failure or success is on your shoulders. It is down to managers to keep tasks on track and guide the best possible outcomes.

The solution: Share responsibility by onboarding your team

Take the time to share with your team the importance of the project and what it means for your company. Define what success looks like for this project and what you are aiming for. Outline the value of their work in reaching these goals in a way that inspires them. When the team is fully invested in a project, they too will feel a level of responsibility to deliver the best possible service and results.

Schedule progress meetings

The problem: As the manager, you need to be in-the-know

There is a weighty pressure to have your finger on the pulse at all times as a manager. Because of this it’s very easy to find yourself breathing down the necks of your team.

The solution: Scheduled check-ins

Check-in sessions should be regular, but not too regular. They should offer teams an opportunity to report on progress. If schedules don’t allow for a meeting then opt for an email report summarising progress weekly/bi-weekly depending on the length and nature of the project. Ensure it falls on your team to lead check-ins – they are reporting their progress to you. Save your questions until the end and define actionable next steps.

Promote a culture of honesty

The problem: Dictatorial management style

Managers can fall into bad habits when it comes to delegating. It can stem from being a perfectionist, or from not having learned an appropriate way to delegate.

The solution: A more trusting approach

Resolve to making a change and make that change known by being upfront and honest with your team. Reflect on ways that you have been too controlling or micromanaged the team in the past and admit this to them. They will respect your honesty and this will instill a level of trust going forward. To quote Stephen R. Covey from his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change; “Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people.”

Initiate group training

The problem: Teams are not aligned

Teams are made up of various roles with different approaches and standards. As a manager attempting to align individuals and teams can be timely, stressful and result in controlling behaviours.

The solution: Embark on group training

For businesses using IT enabled services, upskilling your teams with ITIL training can align processes and improve service delivery. And best of all, go a long way to preventing the ‘need’ to micromanage. The framework of the training will put your employees on the same page, speaking a common language across the business. More effective communication is just one of the benefits of ITIL training, along with improved practices and efficiencies.

Offer support

The problem: General controlling behaviour

You are supervising and dare we say, interfering every step of the way. It’s a bad habit to have as it can limit creativity, have a detrimental effect on staff retention, and lead to burnout on your part.

The solution: Develop your role into a more supportive one (rather than a supervisory one)

A good shake up may be needed in order to resolve your micromanaging ways. Any change you make will have a knock-on effect to your team. You and your team will need to get into new, better habits, changing both your actions and your mindset.

Reflect on ways you may have limited progress by interfering in the past, or times you have felt exhausted from controlling a project. Then take actionable steps to change your management style. Opt for a more supportive approach. Assign work and let your team know they can contact you for support at any point. Having an open door or open office approach can be of great value. At the same time, be sure to support your team in resolving their own issues, rather than fixing everything for them.

In summary

Micromanagement has the potential to be hugely destructive. Breaking the habit will take practice, motivation and commitment. It will be particularly challenging towards deadlines and project completion, but it is then that you must work hardest to fight the urge to micromanage.

Follow the steps above to free your employees, and yourself, of this exhausting management style. In turn you will benefit from improved productivity, greater trust amongst your team, more creativity and innovation, and a workforce committed to making the project triumph!