One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a museum leader is to micromanage your team. It makes your employees feel like you don’t trust them, as well as potentially making them feel incompetent or useless. Those feelings will often result in high turnover rates and damage to team morale. Micromanaging your team also eats up your time and energy. That act must be avoided.
Here are eight ways you can keep your hands off your team’s work and become a better museum leader:
Put Your Own Tasks First
You only have so much time and energy to spend, and focusing on micromanaging your team is one of the worst things you can do for your museum. Instead, look at your own taks and get to work on that. Let your team do their job, so you can focus more on yours.
Learn to Communicate Your Orders More Clearly
One of the main reasons museum leaders are tempted into micromanaging their teams is the fear that their orders were not clearly understood. That fear can motivate you into hovering over your employees just to make sure they are doing the right job. To keep that from happening, you must build your communication skills until you are absolutely confident that you’re sending the exact message you want. That security will let you more easily focus on your own jobs.
Physically Leave the Situation
Often, the best way to avoid temptation is to not be in a place where you can be tempted. Removing yourself from a situation wherein you might be tempted to meddle in employee tasks is a good move. At the office, for example, positioning your seat so your employees are not in your immediate line-of-sight can work.
Make Leadership about Making Yourself Redundant
Leadership is all about creating a team that can look after itself. After a point, the goal is to make your presence redundant. Train your team to become self-sufficient, and you will find the urge to micromanage them much easier to resist. That’s because you know they can do their jobs, because you were the one who fashioned them into a well-oiled machine.
Ask Your Team How They Would Like to be Treated
There is no absolute measure for what constitutes micromanagement. What counts as such for one team might feel like abandonment to another. Some museum employees will want you to be more hands-on, and the only way to find out what kind of team you have is to ask them. For example, you can ask them how often they would like you to check in. Getting their view on the matter will make them feel important, as though their opinion mattered, improving loyalty and performance.
Manage Your Culture, Not Your Team
Giving museum employees autonomy does not just involve leaving them alone. It also involves teaching them what kind of performance and behavior is expected of them. Ensure they know this by communicating your museum culture to them, as well as embodying them in your behavior. If they see you performing according to the desired culture, your team will be more likely to follow your example, leaving you to more confidently handle your own tasks.
Avoid Museum Micromanaging by Hiring Well
If you don’t want to be nervous about the people you hire, you will need to have faith in their skills and performance. That means being picky with the people you hire. Doing so might cost you more money, and it will definitely take more time, but the peace of mind you get from it is worth the effort.
For many museum leaders, the idea of losing control is terrifying. Their work is their passion, and letting other people perform important tasks can provoke a panic attack. However, you cannot let fear dictate your actions. It is that fear that can tempt you into hovering over your team.
However, you need to understand that you cannot be everywhere, and you cannot do everything. Learn to let go and delegate tasks. Not only will that help you minimize micromanagement, it will free up your schedule to handle your to-do list as well as give you room to breathe.
Be Okay with Failure
Sometimes, you can get tempted into taking matters into your own hands because you don’t want a project to fail. However, you need to accept that failure is an inevitable part of life, and that a few setbacks are not the end. Embrace the idea of failure, and focus instead on how you and your team can fail upwards and forwards.
Micromanaging your museum team is a waste of everyone’s time. The sooner you find a way to curb that urge and focus on your own tasks, the sooner you’ll improve as a leader.
Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.