How to Stop Micromanaging Your Finance Team

Offering employees the freedom to succeed or fail, while still providing just enough support, can be a difficult tightrope for any manager to walk. At the same time, too much oversight doesn’t allow a team to grow and develop. To be a successful finance leader, you have to give your team space to learn. Here are some tips to help break the micromanaging habit and still facilitate positive team outcomes.

The Impact of Micromanagement
According to Muriel Maigan, coauthor of Own the Room, micromanaging negatively impacts a team’s morale by establishing a tone of distrust. A team that operates from a place of fear doesn’t innovate or propose ideas that can have a real, positive effect on the company’s bottom line. Micromanagement also means focusing on details – everyone’s details – meaning less time to do what you’re good at – big picture thinking and the strategy of how to get there.

Step 1: Understand the Origin of the Behavior
First and foremost, you need to figure out why you micromanage. Is your team inexperienced? Do you believe that the wheels will fall off if you don’t keep a close eye on things? Is this truly realistic?

Step 2: Seek Feedback
This can be a challenging step – determining how your leadership style is affecting your team. Consider having a third-party gather data so that people feel safe in expressing their concerns. While it can be hard to hear, you need to understand how your behavior is being perceived. After all, there can often be a gap between what a leader intends and what their team experiences.

Step 3: Set Priorities
Establish priorities. As Karen Dillon, author of the HBR Guide to Office Politics says, “a good manager trains and delegates.” This means identifying which tasks you feel comfortable passing on to a team member. Once you’ve done that, make note of the objectives where you can truly add value and invest your energy there.

Step 4: Communicate and Build Trust
Communicate your priorities to your team. Tell them specifically which things they’ll need to discuss with you and how frequently you’ll need status updates. This will allow your team to proactively communicate with you, and will also give you reassurance that things are being handled. Enlist their help in ensuring that you don’t backslide. Jennifer Chatman, a professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business recommends asking each team member individually:

  • How can I help you best?
  • Are the things I can do differently?
  • Have I made the objectives clear?
  • Do you feel you have the resources to achieve your objectives?

The key to success in this step is to understand your employee’s strengths and limitations and to make sure that they feel supported as you slowly pull back. Remember, because your team has gotten used to constant oversight it will take them a while to trust that they can make decisions on their own. Reinforce that you’re there for support should they need it.

Want more strategies and information? Read this great article.

Key Takeaways
Like any habit, micromanaging can be hard to break. Take an honest look at why you micromanage. Gather information on how your leadership style is being perceived by your team. Set priorities and accept that your energy is better invested in developing big picture, strategic thinking than in managing the details of everyone’s workload.

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