Throughout my career as an editor in the media industry, I've encountered many copy editors who, though they would stringently deny it, are micromanagers. They take what other people write and totally change the wording to better reflect their own writing style. They think they are improving the copy, but what they are doing is exercising a deep-seated belief that if someone else's way of expression is different from theirs, then that person must be wrong. When you take away a writer's personal voice, you lose something valuable.
Team management is no different. If you are a team manager and suffer from the delusion that your way is the only way, then you too may be a micromanager. The problem is that if you get too stuck on the way you would do things, you close yourself off to being witness to new and improved ways. And, you demoralize your staff in the process.
So do you want to break the micromanaging habit? The Dallas Morning News offers this list of tips to avoid micromanaging:
- Focus on communication and trust.
- Assign tasks that include clear, specific, and time-bound expectations.
- Allow employees to figure out how they'll accomplish the task.
- Set up status reports that fit the scope of the assignment but aren't too burdensome.
- Let employees know that you're trying to change and give them a safe way to point it out if you slip.
Be a leader.
Leadership skills bring more value and will increase satisfaction for everyone, including you. Options include:
- Investing in each employee through coaching, challenging work, and development.
- Removing barriers to success that your team members face.
- Expressing a meaningful vision to your employees.
Bottom line for IT Leaders
Micromanagement is inefficient and also demoralizing for the team. It also closes you off to being witness to new and improved ways. Learn to let go and let the people you hired do what they were hired to do.
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.