How to Manage With out Micromanaging
At some point in our careers, we are tasked, at least to some degree, with managing others. Managing people, projects and expectations is no easy task, which is why micromanaging can easily creep up and take the reins. The foundation of being a strong manager is giving your peers enough freedom to allow them to learn, grow and succeed independently while you support their process. Knowing when and how to interject is crucial to achieving desirable outcomes; however, excessive interference does not foster an environment where employees feel encouraged to take the lead and showcase their best assets.
Here are some tips I’ve learned help me to manage effectively, without micromanaging:
Know your team.
Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team members is key when determining which tasks to assign. If I have a structured research project with rigid guidelines, then I am more inclined to hand it over to a team member who is organized and detail-oriented, versus someone whose work style may be more lax and free-flowing. This does not mean you can’t challenge colleagues to adapt and get outside their comfort zone, but people naturally thrive at what they excel at, so why not task them with something you know will make them shine?
Organize and delegate – don’t dictate.
As a manager, it’s crucial to make sure you familiarize yourself with your team’s workload. Knowing who is contributing to what and how much they can handle is super important. There are some really valuable resources available that can help. Wunderlist, for example, is an easy-to-use self-management tool that makes organizing and managing projects simpler and more streamlined.
In addition to getting organized, it is important to observe the skills, traits and overall work habits of your team members so you can delegate tasks and responsibilities effectively. Most importantly, don't confuse delegating with dictating. Delegation doesn't mean you bark orders and then walk away. It requires being available to brainstorm or provide constructive feedback, asking for progress updates and making sure your team has the tools and guidelines necessary to be successful.
Set clear expectations.
Ambiguity is a beast. When assigning projects, make sure you explain EXACTLY what it is you are looking for and set firm deadlines. It's also helpful to schedule periodic check-ins. This allows team members to work at their own pace while holding them accountable and ensuring they properly manage their time. Check-ins also help to correct the course. Maybe they didn't express immediate concerns or have initial questions, but you find they are a little off track. By checking in, you can correct their course, reassessing the project and addressing the issues. Communication is key, which is why setting clear and realistic goals from the beginning helps to ensure focus and understanding from both sides.
Build up your team.
Being a manager isn’t about superiority. It’s about listening, leadership and teamwork. It’s important to give recognition where it is deserved because team members at every level in an organization feel more motivated to succeed when they are supported and appreciated. If a colleague really rocked a particular assignment, then make sure you offer a compliment on how well the project was executed. We all need a pat on the back sometimes!
When you are confident in your team and their ability to do their jobs well, there is no need to stare over their shoulders. As a manager, you may be steering the ship, but it takes a crew to operate the entire vessel. Trust your team while supporting their process and you'll create a much more collaborative, honest and enjoyable work environment.