6 Alternatives to Micromanaging Employees
The “micromanagement cycle” can be dangerous. When productivity decreases, managers feel the need to hover a bit more. However, micromanagement is actually counterproductive, leading to decreased employee engagement and even lower productivity.
Stop damaging micromanaging tendencies. Instead, leverage transparency to see what everyone is working on and keep employees productive without hovering or wasting a manager’s time.
1. Hire the right people. To build the right team, understanding the company culture is important. For instance, a fast-paced startup needs employees who are agile and willing to take on multiple responsibilities beyond the job description.
During the hiring process, be honest and open with candidates about roles, responsibilities and expectations, while making sure the culture aligns with their preferences and personality traits. Hiring someone who doesn’t fit in well with the culture will create the desire, or even need, for micromanaging.
Related: How to Stop Micromanaging Your Team
2. Set clear expectations and goals. Set clear expectations based on company goals with each employee daily, weekly or monthly, as best fits your organization and culture. Visual performance indicators or checklists help employees stay on track and understand their priorities.
Elizabeth Saunders, CEO of Real Life E, mentions in an article that the journey doesn’t matter as much as the destination. Give team members a specific goal and deadline to achieve in their own way. This eliminated the need for micromanaging while achieving the desired results.
3. Provide real-time feedback. From a broader perspective, focusing on the big picture and the end goal clarifies where the company is going and what everyone is working toward. Communicating how everyone is doing allows them to understand their role within the company without getting into minor tasks.
One way to provide feedback in real-time is to put a whiteboard with the company goals in a central location within the office. Create a color coding system that quickly and clearly displays the status of the goals so everyone can see the progress.
4. Develop employee ownership. Employees are much more engaged and productive when they have a voice and understand how their work impacts the company bottom line. Providing a list of “to do’s” that employees must execute on just because they were told to won’t provide good results or eliminate the need and desire to micromanage.
Try giving employees a “stake” in the company by offering ownership of ideas, freedom to express creative ideas or setting personal goals that contribute to the company’s overall success.
5. Understand the power of peer accountability. Teamwork and accountability across departments can be extremely effective when managed well. Employees will often hold their peers to a higher accountability standard than a manager will. Implementing peer feedback reviews or adding more team projects are good ways to foster this type of collaboration.
Carefully monitor employees and ensure a healthy balance is maintained with peer accountability. If someone takes their role within the team too far, take them aside and discuss the purpose of peer accountability and the importance of working as a team.
6. Openly communicate to avoid misunderstandings. Open communication is key to decreasing the desire for micromanaging. When an employee feels they are being watched closely, or over-managed, they may perceive a loss of trust or that they did something wrong.
Keeping an open line of communication will ensure a healthier and more productive work environment. To do this, consider keeping an open door policy and stay away from quick judgments with employee ideas and actions. Regular meetings in which everyone can discuss what they are working on and express the need for help or feedback if necessary is also a good idea.
Staying out of the dangerous “micromanagement cycle” is key for any successful entrepreneur. And frankly, if a business is doing well, there just shouldn’t be enough time in the day to micromanage.
Related: When It's Appropriate to Micromanage