How to Lead Without Micromanaging

3-5 Minutes to Read

Are you a micromanager? If you're not sure, you could be making a costly mistake. A successful leader knows the difference between managing and micromanaging.

Micromanaging can lead to an unmotivated workforce that doesn't give their best effort. Strong leaders demonstrate trust and support to improve employee morale and inspire a staff that lacks enthusiasm and purpose. An energized employee more connected to purpose is more likely to take the initiative, which frees you to take on more urgent matters. Let's find out more about how managers can hold their employees accountable – without doing the work for them.

What is Micromanaging?

Micromanaging could be defined as obsessing over every move staff members make. Sometimes micromanaging refers to a complete task takeover. Either way, micromanaging shows a lack of trust and little faith in your employee. Without trust, the employee's relationship with the company and its leadership can't grow. Soon enough, feeling sad and restless, a micromanaged employee will become a former employee.

Demanding boss pointing to his watch and asking to his employee to hurry up

Accountability is a good manager's most incredible tool for management style. Holding employees accountable for their work can encourage responsibility and foster trust while respecting boundaries. A good employee will appreciate the emotional space a good manager creates by fostering an employee's accountability. When employees are respectfully allowed to fulfill their roles with confidence, they are more likely to stay engaged at work, which impacts productivity. OfficeVibe reports that unmotivated employees negatively impact companies' bottom lines by $450-$550 billion per year. Avoid these losses by adopting a culture of accountability and avoiding; you guessed it -not micromanaging.

Employees are motivated to work when they have some amount of freedom. These employees can make their schedules and work independently and at their own pace. A good manager can spot 'self-starter' employees who thrive when they're trusted to do their jobs thoroughly and to exact standards. Keeping these motivated employees under a microscope can distract them, wreck their concentration, and belittle their ability to do their work successfully. They may stop finishing projects and lose their propensity to multitask. Employees trust leaders that show that they can create and respect boundaries and avoid hovering and over-controlling their teams.

How Can Accountability Systems Decrease Micromanaging?

If establishing accountability between manager and employee improves work for an individual employee, how might it apply to successfully managing a team?

According to Harvard Business Review, one thing to consider is that some employees get a little lazy within a group. They freeload, coasting on the work of honest contributors while still claiming the recognition and success of the team. They often will even get ahead of hard-working contributors. The cure? A designated leader in charge of enforcing accountability for unproductive behavior.

The first step to accountability is when a manager and an employee understand precisely what is expected of each other. They're on the same page about the task and when it should be completed. Setting goals, defining roles, and punishing freeloaders will create a professional environment where the team and its employees can have confidence in their success. They trust that all team members are held to the same standards and can count on the quality and quantity of their work. Teams with this accountability structure are typically cooperative contributors that, as the Harvard Business Review says, outperform their free-loading peers.

colleagues working using computer gadget

Another major factor in accountability is removing pre-existing hang-ups about enforcing responsibility within the group. Good leaders make sure that everyone understands what is expected of the team and the individual and head off any resistance to the self-policing of the group by laying down structured expectations. When everyone is on the same page and understands what they are expected to do, it's easier to speak up when someone stops pulling their weight. Regular strategy meetings, brainstorming sessions, and keeping the accountability discussion straightforward and open will help maintain productivity and morale high. If you're not sure how to hold your team accountable, ask them! A wise leader listens, and employees are typically happy to provide ideas and contribute to their own 'rules of the road.' Employees want to be trusted with their work.

Now that you've learned that the antidote to micromanaging is accountability, it's up to you as a manager to provide that space and develop the trust that will allow your employees to deliver at their highest ability. Hold yourself accountable first by coming up with a plan. Brainstorm and gather ideas on how you will hold yourself and your employees more accountable. Keep a journal for a week or a month and write down moments where you think you might be micromanaging and areas that could use more accountability in your workflow. Otherwise, the pitfalls of micromanaging might hurt you and your company.

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