Overcoming the Tendency to “Micro-manage”

Micro-management is the failure to delegate when delegation is appropriate.  It is giving an assignment to an employee who has the capability of executing on their own and then overseeing the details of the execution of the assignment.  In many cases, it is driven by a lack of trust in the other person, but even if it is not, it is almost always viewed as such.  The perception of lack of trust increases frustration and reduces both motivation and the desire to show initiative.  In other words, micro-management creates an environment that negatively impacts results.  So how do you overcome the tendency to micro-manage?  The key is trust, and trust grows with successful accomplishment.  There are three steps to developing trust.

  • Fairly evaluate the competencies of the individual.  The tasks that you assign require certain competencies for success.  Start by identifying those competencies and then evaluate your employee’s skill set relative to those competencies.  If a skill is lacking you can provide support through training.  If all the skills are present then you can predict a high probability of success.
  • Make assignments on the basis of competencies.  The more success that you observe and the individual achieves, the more trust you will have in the person and the more confidence the person will have in their ability.  Making assignments on the basis of competencies increases the chances of success.
  • Communicate your expectations and trust to the individual.  When making assignments, make sure that you clearly communicate your expectations by providing information needed for success.  We call these the six-points of a clear message and they include What-When-Where-Who-How-Why.  Don’t over focus on the “How” component with a competent employee because this can communicate lack of confidence in their ability.  Make sure that you give them information that may be specific to the current task that they might not have, such as “When” you need the task accomplished.  When appropriate, communicate that you have every confidence in their ability to complete the task at hand.

Empowering employees to accomplish tasks on their own not only creates a more confident and competent workforce, it also gives you more control over your time and peace of mind.