It’s challenging to keep your business running without the help of other people. But are you struggling to trust others enough to let them do the job? Do you know how to delegate without micromanaging your employees?

What is micromanaging employees?

Micromanaging employees means managers control employees’ work rather than empowering them to do their own work. Managers closely monitor employees’ actions and provide overly-detailed instructions to ensure employees are doing things “the right way”.

What are the signs of micromanagement?

The most obvious sign is that micromanagers never let employees operate independently. They always try to participate in tasks that have already been delegated. They constantly monitor the process, observe every minute detail and then give a lot of unnecessary evaluations, comments, and suggestions.

Micromanagers cannot mind their own business. They get stuck in non-essential details and fail to look at the bigger picture. Worse still, if they find a small error or problem, they’ll immediately take back the work they have delegated and try to complete it themselves.

Managers of this type do not encourage employees to take initiative, nor do they appreciate employees making independent decisions without their consent. Therefore, in many cases, the opinions and decisions of the micromanagers are counterproductive.

Why is delegating important?

It feels great to be “in control” and feel “I know exactly what’s going on”. The point is, if you know absolutely everything, that means you’re the one doing it. This can be true for a lot of perfectionist managers out there.

But as a manager, it’s more important to prioritize the bigger picture and let people do their job. Trying to control every tiny detail of everyone’s work will only result in feeling overwhelmed because there’s so much to think about.

Delegation exists in the business world for a reason. And you can’t replace it with micromanagement. Being a micromanager will burn you out sooner or later.

How to delegate without micromanaging

Avoid being overly-detailed when you can

The first sign of micromanaging is that when you delegate the project, you also delegate the details of the solution. Although this makes sense in some areas, in other areas that require creative work, being overly-detailed can make people feel like a supplier, not a partner at work. This type of delegation doesn’t improve skills or professional sentiment.

Set clear goals, expectations, and benchmarks

The goals and expected outcomes of each role must be clearly defined and communicated to employees. It’s also important to set some benchmarks to evaluate employees’ performance. This will allow them to have more autonomy in their work, and you can keep track of the results instead of the progress.

Delegate with careful evaluation

Managers micromanage mostly because they don’t trust employees’ ability enough. The solution? You should always understand your employees’ performance and delegate to only those whom you trust.

Look at employees’ past performance and ask yourself these questions to better evaluate your employees:

  • Who can operate more independently?
  • Who have strong abilities and can take on more responsibilities?
  • Who can improve through learning and mentoring?
  • Who can’t or don’t want to strengthen themselves even if they have a mentor?

Then delegate tasks accordingly.

Let the delegatee control the progress

Micromanaging can also take the form of being specific about how one task should be done. Unless you have to give instructions on how to use a machine or tool, let the delegatees find their way to complete the delegated tasks.

Respect and connect

A positive change in mindset you should make is to accept the fact that not everything will be completed the way you want it to. Making room for respect and communication is crucial.

That means you should welcome questions and concerns with an open mind and trust in the delegatee. And that doesn’t mean you can’t be honest with an employee who deviates from your expectations. You can. Just communicate with respect.

Don’t try to correct in an extreme manner

Things may not always go the way everyone wants. When this happens, managers sometimes fall into a “must get this fixed” mode.

Extreme course correction can bring negative consequences to your employees. It demotivates and disempowers them to take the initiative. They’ll become more hesitant in their future decisions and actions.

When things aren’t going well, it’s better to give honest feedback and make constructive conversations, with the aim of actually listening to your staff and finding out the solutions together.

Possible changes to eliminate micromanaging

Here are some small tips to help you make changes and learn how to delegate without micromanaging:

  • Change your attitude toward delegation
  • Don’t worry too much about the little things
  • Advise, don’t command
  • Actively interact with employees and listen to them
  • Delegate to people you actually trust
  • Let employees know what you expect from them

Don’t get too caught up in the details

Micromanagement isn’t bad in every way. It’s still beneficial under certain circumstances and conditions. But too much can hinder the development of both employees and your business.

To know how to delegate without micromanaging, put yourself in the shoes of your employees. Delegate based on their ability, treat their work with respect, and make sure that you don’t get too caught up in the details.

Read more about how to delegate tasks to the right employee and at the right time.

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