Are you a micromanager?

So, you think you might be a micromanager. Good for you for being willing to consider whether that might be true – it’s a great thing to check in on every so often.

Even if you aren’t always a micromanager, it may be one of the qualities that comes out under times of stress or overwhelm. Does that conjure up any memories?  I thought so — me too!

Taking a few minutes to ask yourself a few key questions can go a long way to avoiding a frustrated team and unnecessary project delays.

Here are five quick questions to ask yourself to see if your micromanaging-ways need an overhaul.

1. Are you constantly run off your feet while members on your team are looking for ways to support you?

The problem

What this means is that there are too many workflows that involve you or your input. This is the first and most obvious sign that you may be a micromanaging bottleneck.

You don’t need to sign off on everything and you don’t need to be involved in every step in HOW a goal or project gets done. In fact, your approval on everything may be slowing things down and creating a culture of complacency.

You’re not doing your team or your organization any favours by making everything dependent on you.

What you can do about it

Take a critical look at all of the things that require your team to get your approval. Is there anywhere in the workflow that you can remove yourself? Be ruthless.

Can you create a set of criteria to help a senior team member feel empowered to make decisions or sign off on things instead of you?

Maybe even more so, ask yourself why you’re involved — are you seeking perfection and feel no one can do it as well as you? Do you feel you’re important in the organization if everything comes through you? Do you trust your team?

2. Have you ever delegated a task to your team but then took it back when it wasn’t done exactly as you wanted?

The problem

There are two problems nestled into this one scenario.

a) You think that it’s faster to just do it yourself than teach a team member to do it.

The problem with this is that, likely, this will mean that you’re forever going to be responsible for something that can be done by someone else. Add up all the time that it would take you to do this task over and over for years to come and then consider how long it would actually take to properly train your team to take care of it.

b) You think that your way is the best and only way that it can be done.

The problem here is that, often, there are many, many ways to do something and if we’re open to learning from our staff, they may have a great idea or process that is maybe even better than yours. By not being open to suggestions and other ways of doing things, you limit yourself and make your team feel like their input isn’t valuable.

What you can do about it

Try focusing on the end goal — what do you want accomplished?  See if you can keep your focus on that, rather than how they get there.

If you delegate a task that you feel isn’t completed correctly and your instinct is to take it back, first, consider what about the task wasn’t done correctly. Could it be that it’s a matter of preference? Was the end goal achieved?

If so, can you consider their way? If not, can you clearly communicate to your team member what it was that you would have done differently and provide specific reasons why it should be done differently next time. Ask them what might hold them back from  making the appropriate changes next time.

3. Do you feel like when you go on vacation, nothing gets done?

The problem

You’ve created a culture that encourages your team to defer to you. So, no you – no progress. This has nothing to do with how fabulous you are even though it does feel good to be needed. It has to do with how empowered your team feels.

What you can do about it

Take inventory of all of the repeatable tasks on your plate and the projects that are your responsibility. Make it your goal to shift the ownership of one small thing per day or a couple things per week to a member of your team. It’s a win-win. You get more time and they get to feel more valuable.

4. Do you like to know exactly who is where and when you can expect them to be at their desk?

The problem

The focus is on minute details instead of the big picture. If you manage your team based on a strategic vision and in an outcomes-based way, do you think you would be concerned about the extra 10 minutes they took at lunch?

If you know that Joe is responsible for getting a specific thing done by a specific time, you can worry about how he spends his time if he’s not meeting his objectives. It saves you from worrying about something before it’s actually a problem.

What you can do about it

This one is an inside job. Whenever you find yourself wanting to check in on a team member or your thoughts shift to clock-watching, ask yourself if they’ve given you a legitimate reason to think they won’t accomplish the goal by the specified time.

If not, remind yourself that they’ve been given a job to do and you don’t need to concern yourself with their process as long as they’re meeting their deadlines.

5. Does your team have high turnover?

The problem

Most people like autonomy. They like empowerment. Typically when you give people more responsibility they rise to the challenge. Conversely, if you constantly own everything your team won’t be invested in the tasks and will find a place where their contribution is rewarded with autonomy and empowerment.

Now, certainly, turnover can be caused by many things but if you quietly, secretly, acknowledge it might be because your team is not empowered and they have no autonomy, consider what you’d like to do next.

What you can do about it

Ask your current team, directly, what you can do to help them feel more empowered at work. Ask, specifically, which team members like to do what kind of work and do your best to assign tasks based on strengths and support your team to learn and take ownership.

Summing It Up

If any of these points hit home for you, don’t worry, we get it. You don’t mean to take everything on, in fact, it probably means that you care very much about the success of your organization. However, being involved in every piece of work or every decision on your team isn’t actually serving anyone.

Put at least one of the suggestions above into place this week and watch your team step up and your day become less crazy. And, who doesn’t want that?

Coach’s Question

What can you do today to shift away from micromanagement? How can you empower your team instead of controlling them?

8 quick tips for new leaders

Maybe you’ve just been promoted or you’ve won a new job in another organization and now… You’re in charge of a team!

It’s exciting and it’s also slightly terrifying – we know, we’ve been there.

There are new expectations and people are going to be looking to you for direction and guidance. Not only that, you’ll be held responsible if things don’t run smoothly. Your work is going to be very visible.

So what can you do to ensure early success?

First, remember – there are good reasons that you were chosen to step up. You’ve demonstrated leadership potential.

Early in his career, our founder Patrick was handed leadership responsibilities pretty quickly and we’ve talked before about how what worked to help him climb the ranks as a leader evolved over time.

There are, however, a few things that are consistent among great leaders and managers and can be applied by new and seasoned leaders alike.

We’re not going to hand you platitudes like “lead by example” and “communicate clearly” — those are obvious and frankly, not always helpful. We thought, instead, we’d put together a list of 8 more specific and maybe lesser known tips that might be helpful as you make your mark with your new position, team, or, organization.

1. Use a coach approach

Sometimes you have to be directive, sometimes you have to be decisive, but often taking a coach approach is a good approach. In it’s simplest form, that means asking open, curiosity-based questions to help staff solve their own problems. By open, we mean questions that don’t have a predictable answer. Asking, “What time will you be finished that report?” isn’t open, nor is, “Can you take on this new challenge?”. Try things like, “What were you thinking might work with this challenge? What implications might that have? What are you concerned about if you do it that way?”

2. Lead the vision

It can be hard to keep the organizational vision at the forefront in daily decisions but if you’re able to and successful at communicating that, it will help put your decisions into context for the team. This helps create alignment, cohesiveness, and loyalty.  And, it helps you and your team stay focused on the bigger picture goals.

3. Establish an approachable feedback mechanism

Open-door policies are great and making your team feel like they can come and talk to you when they have something to discuss is certainly valuable. But, more than that, asking for specific feedback on particular areas and making sure that there is an approachable way to provide feedback will help you avoid lip service. I guess what we’re saying is – be not only open to feedback – seek it out.

If you’re worried about looking inexperienced or weak with your team there are couple things you can do:

  • Accept that you’re new and so folks already know you’re still learning
  • Use questions to engage — ask things like, “What would be helpful to you on this?” or “How can I be more helpful to you to help you accomplish this?”

4. Consider how you’re being received

Imagine you’re the employee wanting to make a good impression with the new manager. How are they hearing you and/or seeing you? If you’ve been promoted and your team used to be your colleagues, how might they be feeling? How will you show them you appreciate their contributions and you value them working with you?

5. Recognize good work

It may seem like leadership 101 to make sure to give props where props are due but this one comes with a twist.

Not only is it important to thank, praise, and call attention to good work, it’s important to do it in the way that the specific employee appreciates. For example, perhaps you have an introverted staff member who prefers a one-on-one conversation to talk about successes. Don’t, then, call attention to that person in the middle of an organizational-wide meeting.  Instead, give them a sincere thanks privately, one on one.

6. Engage your team on decisions

This doesn’t mean consensus-based decision making; as a leader, the decision, in the end, is often ultimately up to you. But, the more people you engage and the points of view you hear, the more solid and well-rounded your decisions will be. Not to mention — the ripple effects on morale for engaging your team and including them in important decisions.

7. Promote lifelong learning

You may have a lot of experience and you may even have a lot of education to pair with that experience but there is never an end to what you can learn and the source of learning can be any person or any situation.

Look for opportunities every day to learn from those around you.

8. Get a mentor

Self-awareness is a very important and attractive leadership quality. Knowing and accepting where you are in your leadership journey will only help you grow. Find someone with a leadership style that you aspire to and see if they’re open to being a mentor. Determine a clear set of goals and check in with them regularly. Find someone you know will be not only supportive but also very honest with you.

Coach’s Question: What can you do today to up your game as a new leader? Which of these tips resonate with you?