Do it Yourself! – Overcoming Micromanagement

At some point, all of us have either heard or said the phrase, “It’s just easier to do it myself.” The reason this expression has been able to withstand the test of time is that it’s right! It is true that doing something well is easier than teaching someone else to do it. And by the time we teach a person to learn a task, we could have already done it.

What is micromanagement?

Over-managing people unnecessarily. Instead of giving people general instructions and then allowing them to do their job, the micromanager monitors and assesses every step.

Why does it happen?

  1. Vanity: No one can do it better than you can. This will almost assuredly be true if no one else gets to try!
  2. Trust: You can’t trust anyone to do it correctly. Accountability can be a major factor and ultimately cannot be delegated.
  3. Desire: You like to do the task yourself. You do it well and get satisfaction from accomplishing it.
  4. Control: If you are doing it, you know the outcome. This also has roots in the need to exert power and a need to manage every detail.
  5. Recognition: Those who achieve the goal get the benefit of accomplishment.
  6. Lack of awareness: You could be making unconscious decisions to direct activity and may actually think you are providing needed supervision. It’s possible that you’ve been supervised the same way and learned micromanagement as a skill or technique.

How do you know if you are micromanaging? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you assign tasks only to take them back?
  • Are you delegating outcomes and then managing the process?
  • Have you spent more time instructing people how to do something than it will actually take to do the job?
  • Do you find yourself irritated when others make decisions without consulting you?
  • When you do delegate, do you find that employees wait to begin the job or stop once you provide unsolicited advice?

Although the intent may be to help or support the individual, you may be unintentionally de-motivating employees and creating resentment. Ultimately, employees learn not to start delegated activities or will stop once you intervene, knowing that you will eventually take the task back and complete it yourself.

When you need to delegate, follow some simple steps:

  1. Develop a plan and involve your employee in the process. Solicit advice on how the person wants to be managed.
  2. Outline whether you are going to delegate the outcome or if you want the individual to follow a
    prescribed a list of chronological actions.
  3. Provide the training necessary to ensure the person has the skill to complete the task.
  4. Create timelines to check on the progress that both parties agree upon.
  5. Facilitate corrections allowing the person to be a part of the solution. Telling them what to do and how to solve problems may interfere with their ability to demonstrate accountability.
  6. Motivate during the process to keep things moving forward.
  7. Ensure that you give credit for achievement to the person at the end.
  8. Ask for feedback on your management style.

Though it might not be easy, becoming aware is the first step in overcoming micromanagement.  While maintaining control and doing things yourself can be personally rewarding, it will ultimately result in reduced productivity. Allowing people to learn new tasks can allow you to focus on more important activities. Motivation and individual growth can be a powerful result and increase morale and efficiency.

Do you find yourself micromanaging? Watch this ted talk on how to recover!

Want to ask better questions so you don’t have to overmanage? Check this out!