The Anti-Micromanagement Guide

The Anti-Micromanagement Guide

We’ve all been micromanaged at some point, and it’s not fun. Entrepreneurs can be notorious micromanagers because most of them work 100 hour weeks, pouring every ounce of energy into the success of their companies. This dedication can be good for the bottom line, but bad for employee morale when empowerment is replaced by control.

If you’re a business owner and fall into this category, there are ways to reduce your micromanaging tendencies. Here are a few tips:

Identify your tendencies

Try observing your own behavior. After assigning a project, how often do you check in? How much do you trust your employees to do a good job? Do you wake up at night worried that you’ll have to go back and redo work? What aspects of different tasks give you anxiety and which aspects are you happy to delegate? Once you recognize your triggers, you can start moving forward. Consider handing out an anonymous survey to garner feedback.

Focus on hiring

It can be difficult to establish trust with your team if they aren’t solid performers. If this is the situation, take a hard look at your hiring process. Are you attracting the best in the talent pool? Is there additional vetting that you could be doing before every hire? Could your interview process be more thorough?

Hiring the right people can take time and a tremendous amount of effort, but it’s worth every minute. Once you have a great team in place, it can be much easier to delegate and trust that things will get done according to plan.

Be clear on your strategy and mission

Business owners who effectively communicate the vision, mission, and strategy of a company are more likely to inspire employees to work hard. What is at the core of your business? Why should employees want to come to work every day? How are you helping your industry or society in general? Answer these questions and then communicate them in a way that can motivate your team.

Set boundaries upfront

Think through a project thoroughly before assigning it to an employee. Consider building in checkpoints throughout the process and feedback sessions where team members can expect to interact with you. Explain that you’ll be available for questions during the process, but that you won’t be checking in outside of the boundaries you set in your initial schedule. This structure will allow your employees to do the work as they see fit, knowing that you’ll be in the background—but not hovering over them.

Subscribe to the “done is better than perfect” mentality

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was onto something when she famously wrote, “Done is better than perfect” in her best-selling book “Lean In.” This sentiment speaks to the heart of every micromanager. Empower your employees to get the job done, even if it isn’t exactly as you would have executed it.

Take a deep breath (or three)

The next time you have the urge to micromanage a situation, step back and take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself if you really need to interject. Can you turn around your tendency to control and find a way to bolster your employee instead? Taking a pause can allow you to reflect and move forward with clarity.

Empower your employees

Allow your employees to make decisions. See how those decisions affect the company and then adjust. The more ownership an employees feels over a task, the easier it is to do the best job possible.

Celebrate successes

Take time to acknowledge a job well done. Order in lunch and call out your top performers. Schedule a one-on-one dinner with a star employee to congratulate them. Or just drop a handwritten thank you note on their desk the day after a big win. Small efforts can go a long way toward maintaining employee satisfaction.

Katie Morell

About the Author

@katiemorell

San Francisco-based, writes about business, travel, social justice and human interest topics. Contributes to Fast Company, Hemispheres, The Guardian, Consumers Digest, OPEN Forum, BBC Travel & others.

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