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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Stop being a micromanager with these 15 helpful tips

Transitioning from a micromanager to a true leader can be difficult, but it’s essential if you want to build trust with your team.

Stop being a micromanager with these 15 helpful tips
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

When you’re used to being in control of your business, it can be hard to delegate tasks that you’ve done well on your own. But with growth comes the necessity to hire new employees to take on projects you’re no longer as available to handle.

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Micromanaging slows down workflow and creates a strained dynamic between employees and leaders. More importantly, it hinders the ability of a manager to build trust with their employees.

To help you break this bad habit, a panel of Fast Company Executive Board members shares some best practices for becoming less of a micromanager and trusting your team’s instincts.

1. COACH AND ENCOURAGE THEM

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Self-awareness is critical for today’s leaders if their teams are to perform to their potential. Step back and recognize when you aren’t giving them the freedom to work independently. Always remind yourself that you don’t know all the answers. Often your team should and does know better than you, so it’s better to coach, encourage, and coordinate their actions instead of micromanaging them. – John McNelly, Quext

2. TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH

You need to look inside and take a leap of faith. You will never stop micro-managing if you don’t put a sudden stop to it. Then, measure the outcome and change in performance: did your team perform better or worse? Most often, it’s better. – Yoav Vilner, Walnut

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3. DEFINE RESPONSIBILITIES CLEARLY

It’s imperative that each member of your team has clearly defined roles and responsibilities. As a leader, visit this list for accountability when reviewing their work and performance. Follow successful accountability methods with a growth plan to include broader responsibilities, with a financial incentive. Give and takes are key to developing trust. – Maurice Kelly, Windpact Inc.

4. USE PERSONALITY TESTING

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Start with understanding how your team works. Use a personality test (e.g., DiSC or CliftonStrengths) to guide your team through understanding each of their unique paths to excellence. This will build trust within the team and encourage your team to hold each other accountable. – Kyle Lacy, Seismic

5. INVEST IN TRAINING

By investing heavily in your people through training and relationship building, you can create a culture of trust that eliminates the need for micromanagement. The time and energy that it takes to train a team will eventually translate into more space for innovation and leadership. Those are the keys to growth that will not only benefit you personally but create opportunities for your team. – Katelynn Minott, Bright!Tax U.S. Expat Tax Services

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6. ESTABLISH KPI MEASUREMENTS

Over-communicate the company’s defining objectives. Establish the key KPIs for each of those objectives and ultimately measure them frequently with two factors: likely to achieve, and quality or effort. Not only does this clearly help managers create their own ability to scale, but it leaves no ambiguity on how the team’s individual contribution supports the overall objectives. – Craig Jones, StarCompliance

7. EMPOWER YOUR TEAM

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The best way to build trust in your team is to empower your team members to take on increasingly challenging projects. For many leaders, this is challenging, so start small and increase responsibility over time. As both you and your team members realize what is possible without your direct oversight, trust will build, allowing you to take yourself out of production and focus on strategy instead. – Camille Preston, AIM Leadership, LLC

8. RELY ON ORGANIZATIONAL SOFTWARE

Invest in software that helps organize each employee’s tasks and keeps them on track to meet deadlines. This will allow you to monitor your team’s productivity without having to be involved in the day-to-day workflow and let you focus on the bigger picture. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

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9. FOCUS ON THE OUTCOME

Focus on the outcome and not the approach. Micromanaging is about telling people how to do something. Leadership is about helping everyone understand the goal of all this work. If you focus your energy on getting people excited about the outcome of a project and let the team focus on the work and approach required to get there, everyone will feel empowered and motivated to get the job done. – Barry Fiske, Merkle

10. NURTURE YOUR TEAM

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By giving your team space to grow, you will find your workload decreasing. If you nurture your team, you will find that your team will in turn nurture you. As a result, you will be able to focus on the growth of your company, having to spend less time running the day-to-day operations. Foster a close relationship with your team and invest in their growth! – Brandon Pena, BrandON Media Group

11. ALLOW FAILURE

Award stretch opportunities and cultivate a safe environment to fail fast and fail forward. This empowers teams to do, learn, and grow. – Britton Bloch, Navy Federal

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12. HIRE SMART CANDIDATES

Hire people that are smarter than you so you can’t tell them how to do their job. To me, it doesn’t make sense to add another person to the company if they cannot take a big chunk of the work and take the lead on it right away. The whole point of hiring them is to free up my time (or someone else’s time on the team). Micromanaging makes it even more complicated for everybody. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

13. PROMOTE OTHER LEADERS

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Promote a key member of staff to be the lead for the team that you micromanage. Having a trusted touchpoint who will be able to not only manage the day-to-day activity of the team but also have your best interests at heart will train you to slowly break your micro-managing ways by providing trust and comfort rather than stress and loss of control. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

14. SET ALIGNED GOALS

As someone with a tendency to micromanage (my team would agree), I’ve found that a clear set of aligned goals between my team and me helps to remove the insecurity behind my need to micromanage. If we hit goals and deadlines, I can confidently stay out of their way and let them do what they do best. – Josh Perlstein, Response Media

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15. SELECT HIGHLY TRAINED CANDIDATES

We hire adults that already possess the skills to fulfill the tasks of a particular position. Yes, we have had to let some employees go, but for the most part, if you hire adults you can trust, they typically will surprise you. Micromanagers sometimes have trust issues and have a tough time letting go of tasks that many others could easily complete in a trustworthy manner. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC

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