In my experience, managers either walk on eggshells to ensure they don’t micromanage, or they’re oblivious to the fact that they’re micromanaging. For those who are aware of it, they can end up in an endless cycle of questioning their management practices.
One of the classic micromanager traits is “following up” with employees to make sure they’re doing their work and getting it done right. While my company has removed micromanagement from our processes, we do implement “macromanagement,” which is the process of giving strong parameters with consistent oversight and allowing each individual contributor to finish their work the way they see fit. Macromanagement can take these overseeing processes from irritating to reassuring.
If you’re used to micromanaging your team, it can be difficult to change your ways. You run the risk of wasted time, effort and resources, and putting full trust in your employees is hard. However, research shows that you shouldn’t micromanage. For instance, in an Accountemps survey, 68 percent of employees who were micromanaged said it decreased their morale, and 55 percent reported that it hurt their productivity.
If the following apply to your startup or small business, stop being so hard on yourself for being a micromanager, and adopt macromanagement practices to increase employee satisfaction and productivity.
An Inexperienced Workforce
Skills do not equal experience. While my 17 employees are each highly skilled in their departments, they’re all fresh out of college, give or take a few years. Our interns are still in school. However, we only hire the brightest, so if they’re new to the workforce that’s fine by me — as long as they’re malleable.
I’m completely confident in my team’s abilities, but they’re so new to the world of work, I can’t afford to assume they always have everything covered. My constant advice, edits and commitment to process all act as reassurance. I don’t have to respond to every email I’m copied on, but they know I’m there to jump in if something goes wrong or a detail isn’t quite right. After all, all it takes is one tiny detail to derail a campaign or client relationship. An added bonus for my team is that they know I have their back if something goes wrong. They don’t have to endure the soul-crushing experience of getting reprimanded by a client — yet.
If the same complications keep coming up, then it’s not yet time to let go of the reins. This can happen with anyone, from your most dedicated employee down to your most disengaged. Macromanagement isn’t about harping on the employees you think are slacking off; rather it’s about making sure your livelihood is functioning smoothly. You can’t let go of watching over employees and projects until they’ve proven they can handle it. Even after time has passed, it’s not a bad idea to check back in to make sure the work is still being handled. The ball can still drop well after employees think you’re not looking. It helps if you ease up once the problem has been resolved, and give more responsibilities to those who are capable of handling them.
Just because you’re skilled or experienced does not mean you’re the best communicator. As the company owner, I have a hand in every department, and I’m solely responsible for keeping this complex machine of a company functioning. I don’t have time for poor communication or guessing games. If employees aren’t communicative about their work, they’re practically begging to be micromanaged. To implement macromanagement instead, we train employees on communication processes early and often, and those who buck under the system are generally those who make the most communication slip-ups.
Ending micromanagement takes practice, time and planning. Building a strong culture, becoming more self-aware, and providing formalized employee training and development opportunities are all great ways to help. As an example of “micro” going “macro,” I implemented a project management system called Bitrix24 and put project managers in charge of overseeing the day-to-day tasks.
What might be seen as the “curse of micromanagement” can become a blessing for the entire team. My employees are building trust with me, and they know I’ll be there for them when they need it. While this relationship might not work for everyone, I can’t help but share some of the reasons behind why it’s a necessary evil. In the long run, the ones who can’t handle these policies will leave, and if an employee isn’t able to handle how you run your company, then they probably weren’t in it for the long haul after all.
How do you feel about micromanagement? Are you completely against it, or did I convince you it’s not always that bad? Share with me in the comments!