The Thin Line Between Delegation and Micro Management

How to avoid micro management

Some people just don't get it right to delegate effectively

It is common knowledge that some leaders have a misperception of what the difference between delegation and micromanagement is. What they don't realize is that this type of task delegation has a negative effect not only on productivity but also on the overall culture of the organization.

Over delegating tasks does not motivate staff especially where the tasks are not related to their work function or add no value to the organizational strategy. Keep in mind each person in the organization were employed for their skills in a specific field and the trust relationship must be there that allows them to do the task at hand efficiently.

Why do we delegate tasks to team members?

First, we must look at what it means to delegate from a leadership perspective. Here are some of the reasons why tasks will be delegated to the team reporting to you.

  • Where a task can be performed by a person with the correct skills but in relation to their work function. This tasks usually will not require the level of skill that the leader possesses.
  • Tasks are delegated to team members who were appointed for certain skills that the leaders do not have.
  • Specific projects that require each team member to contribute their skills to ensure an outcome or achieve a certain goal.
  • Engagement tasks allocated as part of the leadership coaching or training process.
In plain terms, delegated tasks are those tasks that require easy execution without the need to receive constant feedback. Only during a coaching or training process might some feedback be required but experienced leaders will observe the end results without requiring verbal communication.

When does delegation become micromanagement?

Micromanagement normally rears its ugly head where there is a breakdown in the trust relationship between leadership and other staff members. This can be caused by:
  • Incompetent leadership
  • Lack of the necessary skills of employees
  • Inefficient work processes
  • Unclear targets and goals set by the organization
All these factors can create an uncertainty amongst organizational leadership and instead of fixing the cause they can revert to micromanaging each process. Often it is then perceived by leadership that in order to control the situation it is necessary to get feedback on every minuscule action taking place in the workplace.

All of the above factors is the common responsibility of organizational leaders and no-one else can be blamed for processes failing.

How does micromanagement affect productivity?

Most leaders are unaware of the negative impact they make on productivity because of the world of misconception they operate in. It is evident in negative team behavior and a dysfunctional organizational culture that micromanagement is a killer.

The following are symptoms of micromanagement fallout in the workplace:

  • Leadership lose focus on long-term goals and focus on killing fires instead of innovating for future success.
  • Team spirit is low or there is no evidence of teamwork at all.
  • Individual morale and achievement rates are low.
  • More effort than needed goes into achieving goals.
  • Time is wasted on non-value adding activities.
  • Feedback communication serves no positive purpose except for the transfer of information.
  • Employees do not focus on their duties but rather spend time waiting for the next instruction.
  • Leaders and Management spent all their time finding trivial issues to "stay in touch" with instead of improving the bigger picture because it is easier to solve the trivial matters.
  • Unnecessary financial cost increases due to incorrect use of resources.
  • Increased labor turnover which leads to loss of time, skills and inflated training costs for the flow of new employees.
  So there it is. Are you making yourself guilty of micromanaging your employees? Take a break and allow them to do the work you appointed them for. Rather focus on the things that matter and involve the whole team in the innovation process. This will encourage positive teamwork and generate a healthy work environment.

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