By Roberto Giannicola, ACC
It’s only Week Two.
Your team works from home.
The projects are still the same. (Well, maybe not entirely.)
What’s changed though is how much oversight you have on your team. And you are struggling with that, aren’t you?
You set up recurring online meetings. You share status updates, chitchat about the virus, meet the pets, and hear the kids playing in the background.
But at the end of the call, when the videos go off, and your kitchen office is quiet again, you sense that something is not right. Like something is out of your control.
Feel that? Do you know what that is?
It’s withdrawals from micromanagement.
Your team is out of sight and you feel like a fish out of water. That’s because you are a micromanager.
Look, I know this is a habit that’s hard to break. You might say that you are a “control freak” or that you just like to keep an eye on your team, but those are poor excuses.
First, know that micromanaging affects your team’s morale because it sets a tone of mistrust — and it thereby limits your team’s capacity to grow.
Also, it distracts you from focusing on more essential matters that fall within your areas of excellence. What a loss!
So, for the sake of work relationships and your team, this would be a good time to change.
Here are a few ways to deal with this:
I hope this doesn’t surprise you, but unless you develop an awareness of why you micromanage and understand where this is coming from, you won’t make much progress.
From coaching clients, I have learned that, most often, this stems from insecurity.
Relax, I’m not saying you are an insecure person, only that you might be afraid it will reflect poorly on you if your team doesn’t do something exactly the way you would do it.
Or you might be worried that you’ll look out of touch if you don’t immerse yourself in the details.
So, you tend to overcompensate.
Here is an important point to remember though: Your projects, products, etc. are not YOU!
If a project fails, it doesn’t mean YOU are a failure. If you let go of this false equation, you can relax, adjust, correct, coach, mentor, and delegate.
Keep that in mind, and it’ll be a big step forward in dealing with your addiction.
For both new and experienced leaders, it can be a significant management challenge to learn how to delegate appropriately. A good manager knows how to train and delegate.
But you’ll have a hard time doing that if you’re taking on everything — regardless of how important the task.
Determine what work is critical for you by focusing on your areas of excellence. That should be no more than 3 to 5 tasks. Delegate the rest.
Assume the role of facilitator rather than a taskmaster. Let your team know they can come to you with problems or questions.
And demonstrate that you trust them by sharing what is important to you and why.
This brings me to my next point.
Let them know how you work and what matters to you
Once you’ve done some self-reflection and realized you are a micromanager (and going through withdrawals) be honest with them.
Have a conversation about the things that matter to you — the things that they’ll need to seek your guidance and approval on — so your direct reports can get ahead of your anxiety.
Tell them how you’d like to be in the loop and how often they should provide updates. Be explicit about the level of detail you want to know, and prepare yourself to reduce it as you build trust.
This will ensure you won’t relapse and fall back into your old micromanaging habits.
Remember, this is not about demanding to accommodate your controlling style, but instead to help you eliminate it over time.
Next, ask your team how they want to be managed
A confident leader will overcome micromanaging employees by seeking their input.
Simply ask, “How often would you like me to check in?” or “How would you like me to hold you accountable?” This will let you understand how to manage different employees.
After you’ve heard from them. Don’t be stubborn, and change your ways to accommodate their demands. But if they fall through on their commitments…
First, what needs to happen here is that you acknowledge this is a growth opportunity for the person and tell them that you know in your heart of hearts he or she will rise to the challenge.
Don’t just say it, believe it and mean it.
Now you can coach and empower them to achieve the task and do it on their own.
You know that monitoring every single step they take will burn you. Realistically, how long would you want to continue doing this?
And yes, it’ll require that you shut your brain from wanting to fix everything for them. Build patience and step back as you build trust and show faith in them.
Allow them to learn from failure and openly discuss lessons learned.
Finally, gently get out of the way
Fighting your micromanaging impulses might be hard at first, so pull back slowly.
You, as well, need to get comfortable with this. You can do a test run on a project that is a bit less urgent and give your team full accountability to see how it goes.
It’s quite possible they will surprise you with a better way to do it. So, step back for a while and see how well the team does when you’re out of the way.
There may be a few failures as they learn to step up, but less interference will ultimately lead to better performance with greater accountability.
I tell you, depending on how you look at it, this whole new remote setup could be a blessing to you, your team, and your organization. So, don’t miss this opportunity to become a better manager.
And one last thing. If someone forwarded this post to you, stay humble, and pay attention. They could be telling you something you need to know.
Happy remote managing!
To learn more about building your leadership skills by eradicating your inner micromanager, schedule a consultation with Roberto.