Micromanagement is a tough habit to break. That’s because, more often than not, it’s rooted in fear. We become so scared that someone else will mess up—and of all the consequences that might bring—that we watch them like a hawk. We don’t give them the opportunity to make mistakes, because we are checking their work every step of the way.
The flaw with this way of thinking is that fear makes the consequences of mistakes seem much bigger than they really are. If someone’s livelihood or safety is put in danger by mistakes, by all means, get in there and micromanage. But if you need to review every social media post to check for typos before they’re posted, you might be down the micromanagement rabbit hole.
Being able to distinguish what would cause truly damaging consequences and what would just need some fixing is an important step to delegating well. Anything that could really hurt your business or employees if done wrong (health care benefits, accounting, etc.) may require you to put a system of checks and balances in place. Find logical checkpoints in the process to see how things are going and offer help. Avoid the impulse to hover by remembering that the whole point of delegating is to save you time. The solution you come up with should allow your employee to do the lion’s share of the work and for you to quickly sign off on what they’ve done.
The kinds of processes that require consistent oversight are actually few and far between. If you have gone through the requests and promises process and trust that your employee will do everything they can do to complete the task well (or that they’ll come ask you for help removing obstacles), give them the proper training and back off.
Going back to the social media example, you probably have some standards you want someone taking over your accounts to follow. They should use a certain voice and tone. They should share certain kinds of content, like blog posts or behind-the-scenes photographs. They should focus their attention on a few platforms. They shouldn’t say anything offensive. The basics.
Once you’ve given them all the relevant information and offered them a chance to ask questions, they’re ready. Unless they post something horribly offensive, the worst that will probably happen is that engagement will drop, or you need to delete a few tweets. And that is exactly what follow-up conversations are intended to curb over time.
Micromanaging feels productive in the moment but is a huge time suck. So, err on the side of macromanagement, or giving more freedom than feels comfortable. It’s (usually) quicker to fix a problem than it is to oversee the process with a magnifying glass. And your employees will appreciate the vote of confidence. If you’ve gone through requests and promises with them, they should feel empowered and confident to take their new responsibilities and run with them.
Pro Tip: Establish a “code red” protocol, or a way to address big issues that require your team to drop everything to fix it right away. Make sure you have a standardized way of communicating a code red situation to the team and that they know the appropriate response. This usually involves a way for all the key players to quickly discuss the situation. decide on a course of action, and leave their own marching orders. Something will go wrong no matter how prepared your team is. Don’t stress about it. Plan for it.