How To Stop Micromanaging

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 15, 2021 | Published April 17, 2020

Updated March 15, 2021

Published April 17, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Encouraging and inspiring your team to make their own decisions and complete projects independently can increase their productivity and performance and improve company morale. However, this can be challenging if you suspect you might be micromanaging. Learning what steps to take to stop micromanaging can help you create an independent, empowered team.

In this article, we discuss what micromanaging is and share 10 steps for how to stop micromanaging.

Related: 25 Signs of a Micromanager (Includes Advantages and Disadvantages)

What is micromanaging?

Micromanaging is a style of leadership where a supervisor closely observes or controls the work of those who are under them. Micromanaging is often characterized by closely watching an employee's work and providing frequent feedback on their processes and work. This management style can produce short-term results because it ensures employees are doing the work in the manner that the manager wants, but in the long term, it affects employee and company morale. Employees often feel that the manager doesn't believe they are capable of doing their job, which can result in higher company turnover.

Related: 8 Leadership Weaknesses and Ways To Improve Them

How to stop micromanaging

If you suspect that you are micromanaging your team, here are steps you can take to stop:

Related: How To Be a Good Manager

1. Reflect on your behavior

The first step to stop micromanaging is to become aware of why you micromanage. For example, you may be concerned that if your team performs poorly, it will reflect badly on you. Shift the narrative in your head and focus on the reasons why you should avoid micromanaging and the benefits you will receive by stopping. For example, if you stop micromanaging, your team will learn and grow and will become more confident in themselves. You may see a vast improvement in morale as well.

2. Ask for feedback

Gather confidential information from your team or ask a coworker you trust for honest feedback on your performance. This can help you obtain a clear perspective on how significant the issue is and what your team members think. This step is critical for understanding the broader impact that your micromanaging has on your team.

3. Prioritize what matters

When you're deciding what work to do yourself and what you should delegate, evaluate where your involvement is critical. For example, leadership must be involved in strategic planning. Conversely, proofreading a presentation is not a task that managers need to be involved in. Evaluate your to-do list and identify which items you must be involved in and which you could distribute to other members of your team.

4. Communicate priorities to your team

Once you have identified the highest priorities for you, the next step is to communicate them to people on your team. Communicate to them how often you would like updates on specific projects and be direct about the level of detail you will engage in on those projects. Also, offer your support with questions like, "How can I help you? Do you feel you have the support and resources you need?"

5. Set your team up for success

Before delegating responsibilities, assess whether the team is capable of accomplishing those tasks. Be honest with yourself about their abilities and only assign tasks that you know someone is capable of being successful with. With every project, equip and inspire your team to be successful and grow.

Related: Understanding When To Manage vs. When To Lead

6. Set clear expectations

When you are assigning tasks to members of your team, be clear about the expectations for the project from the beginning. For example, communicate what success will look like and, if possible, provide examples. Make sure you let them know if there is a specific timeline for when you need something completed. Let them know if there are tracking measures and goals they need to be achieving for projects or their overall performance.

7. Step back slowly

It can be challenging to stop micromanaging in the beginning, so you may want to consider stepping back from those habits slowly. There are several ways you could do this. One way is to start with a less urgent project or of lesser importance. This allows you to see how they perform when you aren't heavily involved.

Another way is to delegate a project and then inquire from other managers or coworkers how the project is going. This can give you the information you're looking for, reassuring you that everything is going fine, without requiring you to go directly to your team. It's also a good idea to request more frequent project updates when you are first stepping back from micromanaging.

8. Remove yourself physically

If your desk or office is within proximity of your employees, you may want to consider relocating or, at the very least, closing your door. By delegating responsibility to members of your team and then physically removing yourself from the vicinity, you will reduce the likelihood that you'll be tempted to interject and tell them what process to follow.

9. Build trust

Be prepared for your team members to come to you more often in the beginning when you stop micromanaging and let them take over control and projects. Let them know that you believe in their ability to take on the challenge.

10. Provide constructive feedback

When a project is complete, provide constructive feedback. Everyone wants feedback, so emphasize for the different team members what you believed was most successful within the project and where you see room for improvement. Providing immediate feedback can make a difference in how your employees accomplish tasks and feel about their performance.

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