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It's Not Micromanaging If You Do It Without Killing Morale

Hands-on leadership isn't easy. But you can see your vision all the way through without discouraging your team.
It's Not Micromanaging If You Do It Without Killing Morale
Image credit: Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

When we use the phrase “micromanaging” we’re usually visualizing a leader who should have their eyes on the big picture, but is fussing over small details. The term carries a highly negative connotation of ineffective leadership, more concerned with obsessing restlessly over details than what’s going on in the big picture.

While this may be true in some cases, some of the most effective leaders are ones who have their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in their work organization. That means really knowing their people and getting into the operations of the company at their essence.

Related Video: The One Thing to Micromanage as an Entrepreneur

Make sure you are aware of what's happening.

While of course you have trust in your employees, as the person in charge it’s better to be plugged into what’s happening beneath you than not. This is especially the case for those at the very top, who have a lot staked in the success of the business.

If you’re not completely invested in how things work out by paying attention to what’s happening at all levels, you’re neglecting your job and putting yourself at risk, plain and simple.

Employees need to know you trust them.

Related: What Employees Are Saying When They Say They Don't Trust Leaders

Micromanaging, when done correctly, is not a matter of wielding control. Managers who lose the trust of their employees by paying close attention do so because they are communicating that they do not think the employee is capable of doing their job without someone to look over their shoulder. Worse, these employees could even interpret the attention as a feeble need to wield authority.

You are not there to nitpick.

Related: The Difference Between a Leader and a Boss

This is why communication and demonstration of your intentions is key. If your employees understand that you’re not there to nitpick what they’re doing, but simply ensuring that things are going smoothly, you’ll be keeping tabs on things without killing morale.

Being open about your intentions for them and for the company at large will leave no doubt that what you’re after is growth, not a nitpicking of their behavior.

Benefits of micromanaging.

Related: Learn When to Delegate and When to Micromanage

The benefits of a smart micromanaging approach are many. Keeping your hand on the pulse of your business means that you can count on the necessary work getting done while your workers won’t feel you breathing down their necks. When the time comes to try new ventures, you'll have a picture of where things will fit into your employees' existing workload.

Your face around the office will be a constant reminder that no matter how high up the ladder you might be, you’re keenly aware of the company’s comings and goings. This means knowing the work to be done and how it’s happening, not whether every employee is using the right amount of paper clips.

Time management.

Task-management software is a great asset to this end. By assigning and completing work using these tools, you can be kept aware that things are progressing smoothly without having to check in on each employee several times a day.

This less-intrusive method has quickly become an essential tool for managing a team, and is something you should be checking multiple times a day as the person in charge.

Every organization needs to communicate to their employees the importance of a common goal. It’s the only way that all personnel can maximize their time and efforts towards making the company a well-run machine. When someone in a position of authority can point to every person on the team and identify exactly what they're doing and their importance to those goals, it’s clear to all that the company is in good hands.

Only by getting into the daily nitty-gritty can you develop the operational knowledge to keep your team pointed in the right direction. If you’re the one in charge, you shouldn’t have to ask an assistant what’s going on.

Fix problems before they becomes too big.

Another way that conscientious micromanaging benefits you and your team is that with your knowledge of daily operations and results, potential problems can be taken care of before they grow into something unmanageable.

Yes, your closest advisors and lieutenants should be able to do the same thing, but your own set of eyes is most valuable since you’re the one who's trusting their instincts, with a vision to guide the entire group. The last thing you want as a business owner is to be caught off guard. The possibility of unforeseen problems can be greatly diminished when you’re plugged into the details.

As a boss who gets into the minutiae, you’ll be better appraised of what your personnel are like than most other leaders. An understanding of every worker’s methods, habits and tendencies can be valuable knowledge for the person in charge.

For one thing, you’ll be able to assign tasks and duties to the person you feel is best suited for them. Not only that, but when you develop these relationships the team members who are on an upward tangent will make their presence clearer to you.

When openings arise, internal promotion can be a great motivating tool and will save you time and money with onboarding procedures. When you know all your employees’ strengths and weaknesses well, it’ll be an easier task to identify those best suited for a rise in the ranks and promote them accordingly.

Related: 7 Steps to Defuse Workplace Tension

Leave out petty business concerns.

As with every method of operating your business, there are potential pitfalls to be avoided. Besides the obvious need to not overcrowd your employees with petty concerns, there are a few other ways you can avoid being one of those leaders who gives micromanaging a bad name.

The ability to step in when a project or endeavor is going poorly is one of the great advantages of this approach. However, constantly putting yourself in front of employees when something goes bad can foster poor mental associations.

When an intervention or disciplinary action is necessary, it can sometimes best to delegate those delicate tasks. This is a matter of avoiding negative attitudes about the company as a whole, which is a quick morale killer. As the face of the company, you don’t want your workforce fearing you or thinking of you as a source of negativity.

Employees need ownership of their own work.

Related: What Happens When You Empower Employees Instead

Another possible danger of micromanagement is a failure to give employees ownership of their work. While you are certainly the person behind the whole business, they’ll need to feel pride in their work. Being closely keyed into the company means that you’re keeping things on the right track, not that you’re giving every employee their inviolable marching orders.

The quickest way to kill motivation is to make your employees feel that they have no control in their work. Micromanage to keep tabs on the company, but don’t use it as an excuse to strip your employees of the ability to think for themselves.

You can't delegate all tasks.

Related: 6 Alternatives to Micromanaging Employees

The modern entrepreneur simply cannot afford to sit in their c-suite office and delegate all tasks. In a dynamic market, a leader who fails to assess their company at every possible opportunity is one who will be rapidly left behind.

Micromanagement, far from being the scourge that it’s imagined to be, can be the difference between an aimless workforce and a focused one if done properly.