Why supporting employees doesn’t mean micromanaging
Managers need a level of control and insight into every aspect of their business, from personnel management to shipping. Can this be done without micromanaging?
Any manager, no matter their business or industry, knows that their job is essentially a never-ending balancing act. You give employees independence, but make sure they produce quality work and meet deadlines. Encourage them to take initiative, but assume responsibility for team growth. And, through it all, keep up morale by ensuring that workers are content, committed and productive.
No one wants to be a micromanager, so how do you strike the right balance between productive autonomy and a free-for-all? It starts with building trust between you and your employees. Employees should be granted freedom within boundaries, as they tend to perform better when there is greater accountability and less interference.
Establish and Nurture Trust
Trust is a two-way street, but it starts with you, as the manager, setting the right tone. Tell employees you’re confident in their ability to make decisions and then demonstrate that trust by giving them space and supporting their decisions. When employees feel trusted, they are more likely to be actively engaged, productive and autonomous.
That sense of independence translates into feeling some ownership over tasks: “What I’m doing is mine, not just yours,” or, more simply, “I matter.” Employees who feel ownership report an increased interest, a sense of responsibility and a desire to perform better.
Trusting employees can help prevent micromanaging, as well. Just make sure not to take away autonomy once it’s been granted; that’s a surefire way of killing employee engagement.
Avoid Micromanaging, But Stay in the Picture by Setting Clear Boundaries
We all know being too controlling is a bad practice, but how do you stop yourself from being a micromanager? Take a step back to reflect on your behavior, get feedback from your team and work on prioritizing. What do you really need to be part of (e.g. strategic planning), and what can the team handle without you (e.g. proofreading)? Delegating tasks and responsibilities can free up your time so you can focus on what’s really important – the big picture ideas.
Giving employees freedom of choice is key to encouraging autonomy, but don’t allow freedom to devolve into a free-for-all. By creating firm boundaries and a system to hold people accountable for results, you can empower employees to determine how they will accomplish given tasks.
For high stakes or urgent deliverables, however, providing support may be helpful. A certain level of control is always necessary, and managers should remain informed about what employees are doing and how well it’s working.
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