Leadership – Why You Should Stop Micromanaging Your SMBon 12 September 2016
A teacher who only accepts their own way to solve a task. A supermarket manager who has to double-check every item that you’ve stacked. A leader who stifles the creative freedom of his or her staff. Whether in the classroom or at work, leaders who micromanage do more to hinder development than drive desired outcomes.
We recently established that hands-off leadership may be a bad thing, so let’s explore the opposite style.
Essentially, micromanagement is when a manager regularly checks up on staff and their work, intervening in even the smallest duties, and generally being involved in all areas of the business, even when there are capable people in charge that don’t require additional contributions or help. Tasks will only be considered complete once they have the manager’s approval, and employees will feel restricted in their work, sensing that they are not fully trusted to complete it independently.
In most SMBs you, as a leader, have been part of the recruitment of your staff and this normally means that you have vetted them according to your standards. So surely it shouldn’t be a challenge to trust them to work without heavy-handed supervision?
If you are the founder of a company it’s easy to get trapped in the daily minutiae of whichever project is currently being worked on – both from habit and from a need to control “your baby”. It’s no surprise that you are so heavily invested in the company, but you will come to the realisation that as the company grows, there is no way you can be successful without letting others do their bit.
A sign of a true micromanager is resistance to delegating work; you’d rather complete the task yourself to be sure it’s done correctly.
This presents a great challenge for a growing company – there are only so many hours a day, and the reason why more staff were taken on was to improve efficiency and output.
There is not really any easy solution to this, however, other than to simply get delegating. Taking what you may perceive to be a step back from daily activities will be difficult, so start by delegating less mission-critical tasks, and make sure that whoever gets assigned the work is someone you can trust to either complete successfully or learn quickly.
Not focusing on the big picture (as you should, being a leader) is another tell-tale sign that you need to take that step back from managing the details.
While you can still be kept in the loop, leave the particulars to those doing the tasks and their project managers. Your job is to inspire, motivate and empower your employees to achieve your common goals, not manage their every move.
Too much reliance on you
Fostering a culture where staff always require your consent will harm productivity, and stifle innovation and creative thinking.
This type of leadership is also detrimental to the happiness and loyalty of your staff, as there is no room for them to grow into different roles if you dictate every move they make. This could lead to employees seeking alternative work and so increase staff turnover, which we all know can be costly.
Not allowing staff to make mistakes
The mantra of a micromanager is usually that mistakes will happen if the work is not done in the right way – your way. But losing your temper and reprimanding staff for any mistakes they make does not facilitate professional development.
Coaching employees, implementing good training routines for new hires, and seeing mistakes as learning opportunities is a far more effective way to lead.
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