Micromanagement & Delegation

There are few things worse than a manager who delegates then micromanages the task. Micromanagement is an indicator that the relationship lacks trust. Trust = autonomy + confidence. If you have confidence in the person you task and give them autonomy to complete the task it means you trust them.

Delegation is widely underused, especially in an environment where reputation is a significant indication of whether someone is worthy of promotion. Delegation often comes with the stigma that the person whom delegates is lazy or inept. Although this may be true in some cases, the opposite is most often the case. It takes a great deal of courage and management expertise to delegate to subordinates without micromanaging them. Give your people the parameters in which they are to work and set them free to take care of the task. If you trust them and have taught them well, they will come to you with major problems and will handle everything else.

There is always a negative light cast upon micromanagement, but there are times when it’s a good thing. Communication is key with micromanagement. If you are giving someone a task and you let them know upfront that you are going to micromanage the work and that you need to be frequently updated, there will be an expectation of micromanagement on the front end which will cause the person you delegated to be okay with it. This person will most likely not be frustrated. This tactic is often called expectation management.

Micromanagement must be used sparingly, especially if you are repeatedly tasking the same person. Overuse will erode the relationship with your subordinate because of the lack of trust. So in between these delegated tasks, you must give them plenty of tasks that you give full autonomy. Showing confidence in their abilities will improve the relationship and increase their confidence. Also, building people up and teaching them tactics to solve problems and complete tasks without your input is very rewarding and will create more room for your tasks. Plus, it is ultimately rewarding to help people get better, especially, when they leave your employment to work on their ventures. More on that in another article.

During training is another time when micromanagement is acceptable. This is most likely obvious to you, but when someone is learning a task, there is an expectation that you will lead them through the job at the most basic level. As your confidence in the individual grows and your willingness to give them autonomy increases, your trust will follow suit. Once you believe that the person can complete the task, there will not be a need to micromanage.

An experienced manager and friend of mine, Zachary Anderson recently explained micromanagement and I couldn’t think of a better way to end the article. “Micromanagement is like salt; some dishes need more than others. Once you have perfected the other ingredients of the recipe, you tend to need a lot less salt!”

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