In response to our recent posts, Back to Basics, I Need Help Delegating, and I Delegated, Now What, some of you wrote to us worrying that if you follow our suggestions, you may be seen as a micromanager. So, today, we’re talking about the difference between micromanaging and delegating well.

As a reminder, delegation is about providing Context, Content, and Connection, so that the employee that is assigned the activity can organize her/his thinking and tactics to accomplish the delegated task. When you delegate this way, you’re giving your employee (or whomever you’re delegating to) the guidance and freedom that they need to succeed.

Micromanaging on the other hand is about control. When someone micromanages an assigned activity, they’ll typically dictate vs discuss. It can often be things like the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the activity. Micromanaging limits growth and when done over time creates resentment.

We’d recommend you approach delegation like any other interaction, with reciprocal influence. As a reminder, our definition of leadership is the foundation of the work that we do.

Leadership is the willingness
to influence your world,
and the willingness
to allow your world to influence you,
regardless of your role or title.

When you’re delegating, this is how the influence cycle can look:

  • You influence your employee with the background and details of the project or task.
  • Then, it’s just as important to allow them to influence you with their thoughts on how they will accomplish it and the resources they’ll need.
  • Then you influence them, and they influence you, and so on.
  • You repeat this until you’ve come to an agreement about how the work will get done.

This influence cycle also works great during your check-in meetings:

  • The check-in meetings are not a time for you to be questioning them.
  • Instead, your employee should come ready to discuss their successes, their challenges, and their suggestions on how to move forward. They’re influencing you.
  • Then, you influence them (if needed) by getting curious about other paths forward.
  • This continues until you reach an agreement.

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.

Unfortunately, a cycle of dependence
and disappointment is created
when a leader micromanages a project.

Micromanaging actually prevents people from using their expertise, growing in their skills, and it prevents them from learning how to create a project that fits the criteria set by their supervisor.

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’s 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, and delegate parts of the project they can do independently by giving them Content, Context, and Connection.

Take some time this week to think about whether you’re delegating or micromanaging. Be sure that you’re encouraging your team to grow in their own expertise by asking them to influence you as often as you influence them.

Let us know how it goes!

If you’d like support putting this into action,
contact us today.