We have all worked for a micromanager at one point or another in our careers. The experience can prove very frustrating. We cherish our autonomy and believe in our abilities. We become frustrated when a micromanaging boss meddles in our work. Moreover, we become disenchanted when that meddling slows us down, creating numerous delays while our competition passes us by. Of course, we all have probably micromanaged one of our employees or team members at some point or another. Those in glass houses...
How can someone stop being a micromanager? Naturally, a simple recipe does not exist. Here are a few baby steps in the right direction though:
1. Make a list of the types of decisions in which you have been involved heavily over the past month or so. Now divide the list into two categories: the ones in which you absolutely must be involved, and the ones where you might test letting go a bit. Give it a few weeks or a month, and see how things go. Let your subordinates know that you are going to try to let go on those particular decisions. Review and assess periodically to see if the change has been productive.
2. Identify the people you trust the most in the organization. Consider providing them more autonomy. Talk with them about the opportunities that they wish to pursue, and the situations where they feel confident moving with less direction and oversight.
3. Examine your calendar. How can you free up some time to think more strategically about the direction of the organization? What meetings or commitments are soaking up your valuable time, while strategic issues receive less attention than they deserve? Consider shifting responsibility to subordinates so that you can find time to address high-stakes, high-risk issues that warrant your undivided attention. Extract yourself from a few meetings and follow up to see how things went without your presence.
4. Review the forms and memos that arrive on your desk for signature and approval. How many layers of approval exist on those issues? Do you need to be one of those layers? Consider changing the rules and procedures to provide others more autonomy. For example, might you change the spending limit above which people must obtain your approval? Do you need to sign off on as many personnel requisitions as you do? Does someone really need your approval to reserve that particular space or hold a special event in your offices?
5. Assess your email inbox. Do you need to be involved in all those email threads? How might you reduce your email traffic by 10%? Consider the situations from which you could extract yourself. Think about how much more productive you can become if you eliminate 10% of your emails.