Let go and let them prosper

Many people in leadership positions struggle to let go of the reigns and allow their staff to work autonomously without feeling the need to constantly check up on them. This difficulty in letting go is generally caused by a lack of trust and can have detrimental effects on the motivation of staff and productivity.

We’ve all experienced what it’s like to be micromanaged and it isn’t fun. No one wants their manager breathing down their neck checking, for the third time, that the report is progressing and will be ready on time. It’s demoralising for anyone to feel their manager doesn’t have complete faith in them and their ability to do their work properly, on time and on budget without being micromanaged. Here are three detrimental effects a lack of trust could be doing to your business:

  1. It destroys morale and productivity
    Unsurprisingly, it’s staff morale and productivity that end up damaged when a lack of trust is exists in a team. Leaders who struggle to let go of control and don’t trust their team will seek to monitor progress on tasks. This is of course somewhat normal in a healthy workplace, but with an untrusting manager, it becomes too frequent and staff start to notice and feel unmotivated from this lack of faith.

    Untrusting leaders dedicate too much of their time to checking and monitoring the work of others to the point that is begins to interfere with people getting on and doing their work. This in effect can cause tension amongst the team as they don’t want to be constantly interrupted and in the position of reassuring an overbearing manager of their progress and ability to do their job. They often don’t have the chance to get into a state of flow and certainly don’t have the best opportunity to really shine and “own” the task.

    Even worse is when leaders go from keeping a close and scrutinising eye on staff, to taking the task away from them possibly just doing it themselves or re-delegating to someone else. This is a sure-fire way to derail motivation and lead to a disconnected team.
  2. It eliminates a culture of accountability
    Having a culture that encourages a strong sense of accountability is healthy. But accountabilities become confused with an over-bearing and controlling manager. If a manager makes him or herself so much part of a task, by micromanaging, and making their own contributions to the task, it takes away some, if not all, of the feeling of accountability of the staff member and it becomes unclear who actually ‘owns’ the task and who is accountable for it. 
  3. Staff begin to doubt themselves 
    Staff who are constantly micromanaged come to expect input and the constant monitoring, checking and ‘corrections’ to their work. As such, they lose confidence in their own abilities to do their job. They lose faith in themselves as it’s clear their manager doesn’t have faith in them. This only confirms to the untrusting leader that they were right in not trusting and the micromanagement continues. 
  4. Staff begin to lose trust and respect for their manager 
    It’s inevitable that someone who is being micromanaged constantly will begin to feel the frustrations and constraint of control and could possibly begin to resent their manager. Trust is a two-way street and goes both ways. With a lack of trust, often comes a lack of respect for their manager, which goes against everything a healthy, productive working relationship is about.

How to learn to trust again

A manager who lacks trust and tends to over-manage really needs to check in with him or herself and prioritise trying to change this tendency, for the sake of the people they work with and the overall health of their business. If you struggle to let go of control, here are a couple of things that can help set you on the right path. Firstly, set up a structured way in which you can monitor progress on tasks, like a weekly WIP meeting. This will give you the opportunity to set clear expectations, check where everyone is at with their jobs in an organised environment where staff have had time to prepare their progress update and don’t feel picked on, interrupted and micromanaged.

Secondly, and this one is a bit harder for the controlling person to do, let go of the control and allow your staff to make mistakes. Mistakes are normal, and we learn from them. Staff who have been micromanaged may feel that if they make a mistake they will lose their manager’s trust quickly. Indeed, managers who don’t easily trust have difficulty accepting mistakes so it’s likely there is a culture where mistakes and failures are unacceptable, and you will have to work to change this. If you become more vulnerable and let them know your shortcomings and they see your resilience in accepting mistakes and moving on, they will feel more confident too. They need to feel safe in the knowledge they won’t have their manager lose trust in them over a mistake. Instead focus on the learnings gained from the mistakes made. If your lack of trust is the result of under-skilled staff, investigate upskilling them or giving them tasks better suited to their abilities. Micromanagement isn’t the right answer and it’s not a healthy long-term management strategy.

Could you and your leadership team do with one of my tailored workshops? I’ll share my experience and fool-proof leadership techniques with you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

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