Micromanaging & How to Stop It | Is This Mic On?

How do I not micromanage my team?

In this Is This Mic On? we tackle the question, “How do I balance offering my team help and not taking over their work?” Read on to hear what SNP had to say about clear expectations, focus, and being intentional about your time as a leader.

Dear SNP,

Lately, I’ve been wondering where my time’s gone. I’ll start working on something, get in a groove, wonder how a team member is doing, ping them, and 2 hours later I’m just doing their work. I don’t remember being this hands on before going virtual. Does lack of supervision impact quality? Or am I a *gasp* micromanager? Either way, the work needs to get done (correctly). How do I balance offering help and not taking over their work?

– Fear of Over-Managing Others


Dear FOMO,


First: don’t micromanage.

You’re not a small manager (isn’t that actually what micromanaging kind of connotates?) just as much as your team doesn’t want to be made to feel – well – small. So don’t micromanage. 

Helpful? Likely not. Because we can’t tell you “don’t micromanage” and expect you to stop doing it. It’s like us telling our colleague Danny “don’t think about burritos!” What do we assume he (and you) are now thinking about? Burritos. Our subconscious brain doesn’t recognize the word “don’t.” All you really heard above is “micromanage!” So let’s stop nerding-out here on psychology and words, and suggest what you can do…


Step one – Identify the problem.

Why are you taking over? Be honest here. Is it because expectations were not clear in the first place? Are the roles and subsequent responsibilities still a bit undefined? Has quality been a problem in the past – but you’ve never really given that clear feedback to the team member? Is the communication cadence not defined and the team doesn’t understand how or what to update you on? Identify and fix the actual problem.

Do identify and fix (notice I’m not saying “don’t micromanage”?!). 

Now, let’s go bigger here: the impact to the entire organization when you fall back into the (perhaps comfortable) zone of frenetic activity. 

When you’re taking over projects, diving into the details, wading through the weeds…you’re not using your time and talent on something else. Coaching, Mentoring. Selling. Influencing. Planning. Strategy. 

You’re not spending your time and talent on leadership. 


Step two – Be intentional about your time and how you are using it.

Focus. Do what needs to be done. This isn’t a time management speech (just like this isn’t a don’t micromanage! speech). This is a leadership plea: be intentional about your time. It’s finite.

If a benefit of leadership is the freedom of choice, your calendars – your choices – are a reflection of what you deem to be the most important use of your time and talent. Is it hours of direct project management? Is it stacked meetings-to-talk-about-next-week’s-meetings? Is it a string of update-laden one-on-ones?

There is a difference between activity and output – and the sooner you can realize that and model that for your team, the more productive the entire ecosystem will be. So identify and fix the real problem without getting caught in the frenetic activity of doing it all of the time. 

So think big. Manage big. Lead big. That, my friends, leads to big impact.

SNP Communications

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