6 Ways to Help You Stop Micromanaging Your Employees

Many startup founders and small business owners suffer from the illusion that no one else can take care of things like they can. After all, we’ve been with the business from the start, have seen the ups and downs and know every facet of the business. As a result, we try to keep a hand in everything, jumping in frequently to save the day. In a word, we micromanage.

Anyone who has been micromanaged by a boss, parent or spouse understands just how annoying and detrimental this behavior is. In a 2011 Accountemps survey, 68% of employees said that working for a micromanager decreased their morale. Frankly, I’m surprised the number isn’t higher.

When a manager gets involved in every action and decision, employees never feel the satisfaction of accomplishing something on their own. Just as importantly, employees never get the opportunity to develop their skills. Rather, growth is stunted, limited to where it was on the day they were hired.

So, how do you break this micromanaging behavior?

1. Hire the right people

It’s much easier to give employees more responsibility and create a culture of accountability when you have responsible and accountable people on your team. When hiring, don’t just look for smart and hard-working candidates. Also try to screen for people who proactively look for information they need and want to solve problems on their own.

2. Be clear about expectations

It’s hard for employees to work independently when the expectations aren’t adequately communicated. If you want your team to take on a task, make sure you clearly state the ultimate goal, who is in charge of what and any deadlines.

If you’ve had a habit of stepping in to “save the day,” make sure employees now understand that they should come up with their own solutions to any hurdles or issues. Rieva Lesonsky, CEO and Founder of GrowBiz Media, advises that employees shouldn’t bring you a problem without also offering at least two possible solutions.

3. Take advantage of tech tools

Employees naturally feel stress whenever a boss hovers over their shoulder, asking questions like “Did you get back to that customer?” or “Is x, y and z on track?” This is true no matter how nicely or casually you try to ask the question. At the same time, managers do need to keep tabs on task status. That’s where large-scale project management systems or lightweight apps like iDoneThis come in. Employees can report on what they’re doing on a daily basis without feeling the heavy confrontation of the “boss.”

4. Stay engaged

Effectively delegating doesn’t mean you should ignore your employees and business altogether. Rather, you’re changing your role to more strategic support and facilitation. J. Keith Murnighan, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management believes that leaders should walk around the office, “asking people two basic questions: ‘How are you?’ and ‘Is there anything I can do to make your job easier?’ ” In addition, I like to schedule weekly follow-up meetings (at least at the beginning) where I can check in, see the progress of assigned tasks and collaborate on solutions where needed.

5. Reward employee initiative

On one hand, you want your employees to be responsible and show initiative because it’s the right thing to do. But on the other hand, you need to make sure your company culture recognizes and rewards the right behaviors. Employee initiative and accountability should be rewarded. This could be by bestowing even more freedom and responsibility; an extra vacation day; dinner for two; cash bonus — whatever makes sense for your company. Even just a heartfelt thank you or recognition in front of the team can go a long way.

6. Reflect and learn

Take time each week to think about your interactions with your employees: Were there situations when you weren’t actually needed in a discussion, where you got too deeply involved in the details and didn’t let the team handle it? Were there times when you could have backed off? Consider each of these as a learning experience to improve on in the weeks ahead.

Learning to step back isn’t easy, particularly if you’re like me and consider your business one of your children. But if you want your business to scale, you need a thriving, happy and competent team.

Source: mashable.com