We heard from several of you over the past two weeks that you were concerned that if you use our 3 steps to delegate effectively, it would be experienced by others as micromanaging.

Delegation, as we described a couple of weeks ago, is about providing Context, Content, and Connection so that the individual who is assigned the activity can organize their thinking and their tactics to accomplish the delegated task. When you provide the three ‘C’s of delegation, you are giving your employee (or whomever you are delegating to) the guidance they need to succeed.

Micromanaging on the other hand is about control. When someone micromanages an assigned activity, they will typically dictate the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of the activities. Micromanagers often believe that they are being helpful to their staff by defining each step of the process because they don’t believe that their staff can do the work or they don’t believe the staff understand the importance of the work.

Micromanagers don’t allow their staff to think through how they would approach the task or to determine how to best complete the assignment. Instead, they control the process from start to finish. And while that, in itself, can be a challenge, what is more confusing is that they typically don’t own the fact that they are controlling the work but continue to behave as if this product is solely the responsibility of the person assigned the task.

Unfortunately, a cycle of dependence and disappointment is created when a manager micromanages a project. Micromanaging actually prevents people from using their expertise, growing in their skills, and it actually prevents them from learning how to create a project that fits the criteria set by their supervisor—instead they sit waiting for marching orders afraid to do anything for fear it will just be summarily undone.

Micromanaging keeps everyone small and tied to their station whereas delegation raises the whole group up to higher levels of functioning and expertise.

If, as a manager, you believe that you need to be deeply involved in each step of an activity because it is outside your staff’s skillset, then make sure to use it as an opportunity to teach them how to approach the work and don’t just ride roughshod over them. Take the time to share your expertise and when possible delegate parts of the project they can do independently by giving them Content, Context, and Connection.

This week take some time to check whether you are delegating or micromanaging and make sure that you are encouraging your team to grow in their own expertise.