You're an accomplished professional. And because of your excellent performance, you've skyrocketed up the organization and are now running a team, or perhaps even an organization. And from a management standpoint, your job just got 100% more difficult because you're about to encounter one of the greatest challenges top professionals face, which is learning to delegate to your team and let them accomplish their work. Here are 5 tips for helping you become a better leader by kicking your micromanaging habit.
1. Recognize the problem. You might be a micromanager and not even know it. So, one thing you can do is actually gather some data. If you feel comfortable, ask a few members of your team. Or if you're concerned this might be awkward, or might yield biased answers (which itself might be an important clue), ask an outside colleague familiar with your team and management style. Or, if all else fails, do this little thought exercise: Imagine you have an important job to do – a pitch for new business, or a key presentation for investors. And you realize there's too much work and too little time for you to do it all. So, you realize you need to delegate. So, pause: how does that feel? Does your pulse quicken? Do you get a queasy feeling in your stomach. Are you clenching your fists? Does it feel incredibly risky and uncomfortable not to do everything? If so, you might be a micro manager.
2. Recognize you're not alone. In fact, according to an Accountemps survey, a majority of employees polled suggested that they have first-hand experience with a micromanaging boss. 59% polled said that they worked for a micromanaging boss at some point in their career, and of those, 68% reported this style to decrease their morale. So, let these numbers motivate you to make change in your own micromanaging style.
3. Recognize why micromanaging is actually a really bad strategy. Of course, micromanaging probably isn't an actual strategy people consciously adopt – as in: I think I'm going to stifle my employees today by taking over their work and jobs. But still, recognizing the real downside is important. Micromanaging shows you mistrust your team. It takes away time from what you should be doing as a leader, which is thinking more big picture, setting the strategy and direction, equipping your team with the information and access they need to execute on this vision… and then getting out of the way.
4. Rethink your own role. Recognize that what got you to the executive level (being a rock star individual performer) isn't what's going to keep you there, and make you successful. Your job now – in addition to developing vision and strategy – is to develop people. Create a really strong team environment – where you give your people opportunities to develop and use their skills; Reward them for effort; Create a culture where accomplishments are acknowledged and people aren't afraid to ask for advice and feedback; In the end, build a team people want to join and be a part of – and then the micro managing habit will be much easier to kick.
5. Finally – make sure you're hiring the right people in the first place. – It's hard to let go if you have legitimate concerns about the ability of your people to do the job! So, hire thoughtfully, and if you don't have the leeway to hire your own team – work on establishing that.
In the end, micromanaging is a tough habit to break, but as soon as you do, you'll reap the rewards of an engaged and committed team.
Andy Molinsky is the author of the new book Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence (Penguin Random House, 2017).
Previously published at Inc.com