5 Simple Ways to Avoid Becoming a Micromanager
No one WANTS to be a micromanager.
We all know how cruddy it feels to have a boss who hovers, checks in, and constantly demands progress updates, right? Who would want to recreate that tense, aggravating, deeply unpleasant environment for their own contractors? Most entrepreneurs would love to just put their teams on autopilot, step back, and let the business hum along.
Too bad it’s not quite that easy.
When you’re paying someone to tackle key business tasks—work you probably used to handle yourself—stepping back can feel irresponsible. This is your business, after all; Don’t you have a right to know when and how work is being completed? Shouldn’t you make sure the people you hire are doing everything right, since their work reflects on you? Even folks who are naturally easygoing can struggle to avoid micromanaging when it comes to their businesses. The stakes are just so high!
It’s an understandable pattern, but still one we’ve gotta learn to break. Because while micromanaging feels like a way to gain and maintain control, in the end it just erodes trust and makes the work harder to complete. Keep it up for a long enough time, and your contractors will start jumping ship, leaving you scrambling.
So how do you avoid the micromanagement trap in the first place? Here are five simple mindset shifts that will help you ease up and let go.
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Avoid micromanaging by accepting diverse work styles
When you’re handing off work to a contractor, it’s important to train her to do it in a way that’s worked for you in the past. You don’t want to just throw her in the deep end and let her paddle! On the other hand, if she finds new and different ways to tackle the tasks that yield the same, high-quality results, embrace that.
Recognize that there are always multiple ways to do a single job, and that your way isn’t always the best way. Embracing this mindset will keep you from pestering your team members, and also allow them to stretch their wings and make meaningful process-improvements.
Avoid micromanaging by acknowledging talent
When you searched for and hired your virtual assistant and contractors, you put time and energy into tracking down the right people. You interviewed and auditioned, checked references and reviewed their work. Your team members aren’t random. You picked them very carefully, and brought them on because they’re talented, knowledgeable, and skilled.
When you feel yourself starting to micromanage, remember why you hired these specific contractors: they’re good at what they do. And since they’ve already proven that, you can trust them to continue being good at what they do on your behalf! They’re putting their substantial talents to work for you, and it’s your job to honor that.
Avoid micromanaging by rejecting perfection
Say you’ve been writing all of your own Facebook updates for the past five years, and just last month hired a freelance writer and social media expert to take over. The first few weeks will be a learning curve, since it takes a while to adapt to a new client’s voice and style, but after that? Resist the temptation to edit, correct, and tinker with every word she writes.
It may seem like the updates you wrote yourself were spot-on and flawless in every way, and it may be challenging to compare hers to yours. But remind yourself that even your own work was never actually perfect, and expecting your team members to live up to that impossible standard is a recipe for disaster.
Perfection is not a requirement, even for you. Embrace mistakes, variance, and individuality as part of the journey.
Avoid micromanaging by embracing outside input
It’s true that one of the best ways to build healthy, productive relationships with your team members is to train them well and set clear expectations. To make that possible, you may have created training manuals, style guides, flowcharts, and all sorts of other tools to help them learn the ropes and execute effectively. Being thorough and transparent will only help set your contractors up for success.
BUT! You also need a shot of flexibility in the mix.
Insisting that your team continue doing things in exactly the same way forever will lead to boredom, frustration, and a lack of growth. Be open to new methods, opportunities, and suggestions.
Most of your contractors will have worked with other clients, and you never know what they may have learned from others that could be a huge benefit to you. Listen to their input and be willing to make changes so you don’t end up micromanaging.
Avoid micromanaging by setting reasonable deadlines
So far, we’ve focused on mindset shifts that will prevent you from breathing down the necks of your capable team members. We’ll round out the list with a slightly more concrete action you can take: Setting smart deadlines.
Nothing makes an entrepreneur twitchy like a fast-approaching deadline, and that twitchiness can lead to anxious micromanaging. So simply force yourself to set deadlines that are far enough out that you’ll have time to rework a project if necessary. Give yourself more peace of mind, and give your contractors more breathing room.
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