4 ways to help your team succeed without micromanaging

micromanagement
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Micromanagement often has a negative connotation. While a manager is expected to keep projects on track and make sure goals are met, that doesn’t mean doing it alone. A leader’s primary responsibility is to get the job done through others. Your job is to empower and support, which is probably more difficult than many other tasks. When you are passionate about a project, it can be difficult to take a step back.

Unfortunately, there are consequences to being a micromanager. It often makes employees feel limited, limiting creativity and can negatively affect employee productivity. If you are leading a team and feel the need to do everything, you need to evaluate your leadership approach. If you’re having a hard time avoiding micromanagement, here are four ways you can still help without taking over.

1. Ask how you can offer support

Many articles offer advice on how to best lead a team. The truth is, there is no “best” way. A leader must consider the needs of each individual on his team and adapt his approach accordingly. If you haven’t talked to your team about the type of support that works best for them, schedule a meeting. If you have had problems with micromanagement in the past, create an meeting agenda to stay on track.

Remember to let them talk. Show that you respect your employees’ time and what they have to say. You will likely also learn useful information. Setting a time for employees to talk about their needs is valuable because it often highlights areas for improvement. There may be aspects that need to change within the workflow process or employees may need more resources.

Stick to the agenda, though, so it doesn’t turn into a ranting session. If employees complain, try not to offend yourself or be dismissive of any issues raised. You could arrange a follow-up meeting if needed to address issues that require longer-term solutions. If a problem occurs once, it is likely to reoccur.

2. Adapt your leadership style

The information you gather from your meeting about support preferences should inform yours leadership approach. Listening to your employees is the first step, but you also need to apply that information. If you don’t, they probably won’t be as likely to share their thoughts in the future.

Your team may not be able to tell you directly what types of support they need, but there should be signs that indicate a particular approach. If your team requires more autonomy, take a more laissez faire approach. Show that you trust them and take a step back. This hands-on approach allows your team to make decisions. It can often be rewarding, as they will come up with creative solutions that you probably wouldn’t have.

Some team members thrive on taking a transactional approach to leadership. They may need a reward system put in place. Other team members will appreciate having a transformative leader. In this case, you will want to help them grow by delegating leadership opportunities and encouraging professional development. If your business is constantly evolving, you may need to take a situational approach and change your style to suit the situation. Leadership is not for everyone and there will be trial and error to see what works for you.

3. Clearly communicate expectations and priorities

Communication can be difficult. Some managers share the belief that only business leaders should be aware of certain information. This often creates a top-down communication network, which often causes those below to be left in the dark. While it’s true that everyone in a company doesn’t need to know everything, some information should be easily accessible and shared with everyone.

If your organization uses a top-down approach, update it. You can still keep that method of communication, but adding a centralized communication platform might help. Use a cloud system to store key documents that expose the company’s expectations. Make documents such as industry resources and your employee handbook available. You could also add project management software to determine when certain projects take priority over others.

You should also value bottom-up communication, as it often boosts employee morale and collaboration. Establish a slow channel to send company-wide ads. This system would also allow any employee to ask a question or raise a concern. However, to support this level of communication, you need to foster a supportive culture. The meeting discussed in the first section is a great start.

4. Promote accountability

Part of being a successful leader is showing your team that you trust them. When you step back to avoid micromanagement, team members will step forward. You have leaders among your employees and part of your responsibility is to encourage them. When projects arise, see if any employees want to take the lead. As a manager, you want your employees to feel a sense of belonging because in doing so they will feel responsible for the success of the project.

While some workers may be eager to step forward, they may not have the experience required to lead a team. You should be there to catch them if they fall and talk to them about what went wrong. The common phrase “you learn from your mistakes” is true. The hardest part about being a leader is that sometimes you have to let people fail. As long as you take the learning opportunity, it will probably be fine.

Ask if they would like your support and step in to help without taking over. Or refer them to another team member who would know what to do. You want to strengthen the connections between colleagues to have a company that functions like a well-oiled machine. So the next time a challenge arises, your employees will know they can rely on each other and persevere.

All leaders will not have perfect days, and this is expected. However, the trick is to do the best you can for your team. Host productive meetings, be adaptive, communicate clearly, and listen to your employees’ needs. While it may be easier to see areas where your team needs to improve, look at yourself first.

Even if you’re doing a great job, ask your employees. Create a two-way feedback culture. Listening is an essential skill that is often overlooked. But if you do it right, your employees will notice and your business will benefit.

Rashan Dixon is a senior business systems analyst at Microsoft, an entrepreneur and writer for various business publications.

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