A surefire way to alienate a decent employee is to micromanage. Looking over workers' shoulders and preventing them from making decisions conveys an "I don't trust you" message.
But what do you do if you're concerned about their performance? You trust them to a degree, but you worry that if you lay off for too long, their misguided efforts can prove costly. Try these savvy steps:
Level with your employee. Explain your dilemma. Say, "The last thing I want to do is micromanage you. But I also need reassurance that you can take charge of this project. Any ideas on how we can proceed?"
Create checkpoints. Ask the employee to send you a weekly e-mail update. Invite questions and concerns so that the staffer feels comfortable opening up to you or admitting, "I need help."
Think worst case. Assume you avoid micromanaging and the employee messes up. What's Plan B? Devise a strategy to cope with an adverse outcome so that you minimize the damage.