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Lead Your Team Personal Growth

5 Ways to Stop Being a Control Freak

Woman looking over her glasses
Good leaders know how to let go of their control issues and let employees do their jobs. / Credit: Control freak image via Shutterstock

One of the toughest tasks many bosses encounter on a daily basis is handing the reins of projects and tasks to their employees.

Dana Brownlee, founder of Professionalism Matters and a corporate trainer for Fortune 500 companies, has found that most leaders don't delegate because of a fear of losing control. She says that fear however can cost them in the long run because what they are really doing is robbing employees of the ability to enhance their skills, communicating a lack of mistrust, and fostering a perfectionist culture.

"No one wants to work in an organization or for a leader who doesn't trust and value them," Brownlee told BusinessNewsDaily. "Particularly for younger employees (or those new to a particular area), this can really destroy their confidence, which can have particularly negative repercussions."

Brownlee said results actually suffer when a control freak boss is handling all of the work.

"In particular, if you're removing any opportunity for creativity or innovation, then you're missing huge opportunities for potential improvements," she said.

Brownlee offers leaders several tips on how they can loosen their grip on controlling everything around the office.

  • Start small: Don't delegate something that is mission critical.Delegate something small (initially) and work your way up to delegating larger, more important tasks.
  • Seek the right fit: Everything shouldn't be on the table for delegation. Not just because of the importance of the task, but also because some tasks are a better fit for the particular person you're delegating to than others. Look for areas where employees have unique ability, interest or insight if possible. Maybe they're a skilled Web developer, but never presented a new website to a client. This task, while new for them, showcases their natural strengths and provides them with a boost of confidence.
  • Don't have unrealistic expectations: Remember that there is a difference between someone doing something "wrong" and not doing it the way you would have done it. Style differences are just that. If they prefer circle bullets, and you prefer squares, keep it to yourself.
  • Ask employees what level of support/communication they want: Everyone hates the micromanager who half delegates. Avoid this by asking them how often they want to check in with you. If they propose a timetable that doesn't provide enough feedback in your mind, ask if you can check in more frequently initially and then reduce the frequency as the task progresses.
  • Reward effort and results: In order for employees to truly learn, they need to feel that it's OK to make mistakes. In a learning environment, effort is as important as results. It's an achievement if employees are stretching their abilities and trying new things, and that should be acknowledged. With increased confidence comes better results, so don't focus on results exclusively.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.