The Perfectionist’s Guide to Managing a Team Without Micromanaging

Managing a team is hard enough without adding your perfectionism into the mix. Scope out ways to get beyond it.

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Kelly Poulson51
Coach. Career Navigator. Ass Kicker. Dog mom.
April 13, 2024 at 6:21AM UTC

My fellow perfectionists, our lives are not simple or easy (though I’m fairly certain no ones’ is). We have the joy of dealing with our own inner critics all day long, which is exhausting. And if we’re leading a team, we have to make sure our critics don’t spill out of our heads and on to every one of our team members if we want them to thrive. 

It takes work, but nothing that’s worth it ever came easy. It is possible to set up a good environment for your team while you’re still working on your own personal growth. Luckily it’s not an either-or situation. No one wants to be micromanaged. And if that’s your go-to move, you’ll soon find yourself without a team. Here’s how to prevent it. 

1. Repeat after me: “my way isn’t the only way.” 

Because let’s be real, it’s not. Every now and again, there may be a legal or policy reason why something must be done a certain way. But more often than not, it’s a preference on your part that you’re hoping your team will adhere to regardless of how they like to work. It could be time to look in the mirror and ask yourself: must it really be done this way, or is it just something that I want? If at the end of the day it’s all about you and how you want things to happen, your team won’t last long. They are intelligent adults with working styles, preferences and ideas of their own. If they never get to flex those muscles, they’ll be disengaged and out the door much sooner than you’d like. Maybe next time, try asking how they’d handle it before jumping in with your approach. 

2. Clarity is the name of the game. 

Set expectations and be clear. No one is going to be happy with outcomes if they didn’t have clarity on expectations from the start. And there are so many factors to consider when it comes to communication. How regularly are you meeting with your teams individually? Regular face time is crucial to building relationships and gaining an understanding of who they are, how they work best and how to best communicate with them effectively. When you’ve walked out of a conversation, does everyone have a sense of who is responsible for what, timing and goals? If not, the team isn’t exactly being set up for success and you’ll inevitably feel like you’re losing control and will jump into the weeds when it isn’t necessary. There are plenty of methods out there to try in order to impact meeting effectiveness and gain clarity. Find a system that works for you and your team. 

3. Feedback and accountability are your friends.  

It’s not uncommon for micromanagers to redo the work of their team members. That’s not only a waste of your time, but a missed learning  opportunity for that individual if you’re not providing them feedback. If something comes back to you and it missed the mark, why not sit down with that employee, explain to them how it could be better and give them another opportunity to deliver. If you’re open, honest and go into that dialogue with the intent to help them grow, you never know what could occur with round two. Meanwhile, if you redo it, you’ll be annoyed and they’ll be annoyed. That’s no good for anyone. As the leader, you’re there to help them evolve in their careers. Letting them hand in work that isn’t up to snuff and redoing it certainly isn’t meeting that requirement of leadership

4. Learn to let go. 

This is easier said than done, for sure. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with managers who say it is easier for them to continue to do something themselves than to invest the time into training someone else. And it’s that mindset that will keep you doing the same work every day. It’s a recipe for boredom. At the end of the day, you are not the best person for every job. And for what it’s worth, you need to take some time off every now and again. If you hold onto everything, you’ll not only have an underutilized team but an over-utilized self. Do what you have to do to learn to delegate and hold yourself accountable to that change. 

Micromanaging wastes your time and the time of your team while eroding trust. If you’re really looking to help yourself and your team to evolve, while also delivering for the organization, it’s time to address these issues. What have you got to lose? 

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Kelly is a human resources pro and coach who helps people find and achieve what they want career-wise and beyond. Coaching, training, recruiting – if you name it in the world of HR, she's done it in a variety of industries. Her advice has been featured on The Muse, Career Contessa, Workology, among others. Learn more by scoping her out at

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