Micromanaging is a management style where a manager closely observes and controls the work of their subordinates or employees. This type of manager has to have their hands in everything and is too involved in every detail and step. Micromanaging has numerous negative effects including affecting morale, negatively impacting performance and limiting creative development. It also burns the manager out and can make the employees doubt their abilities and even lead to a high turnover rate. Here are some common reasons people do it and strategies to help you stop.
Signs of a micromanager
Here are some signs you are micromanaging your team. You
- are never satisfied with deliverables
- must approve every single decision
- experience constant project bottlenecks due to excessive meetings, gatekeeping and stakeholders
- have employees who are afraid to share their opinions
- often feel frustrated because you would’ve gone about the task differently
- laser in on details and take great pride and/or pain in making corrections
- mete out high levels of criticism and discourage alternate approaches
- constantly want to know where all your team members are and what they’re working on
- ask for frequent updates on where things stand
- always want to be CC’d on emails
- lack of new leaders coming up through the ranks
- experience a high turnover of talented employees
Reasons for micromanaging
Fear is one of the key drivers of this behaviour. The common reasons people micromanage are linked to limiting fears and beliefs such as:
- Fear of losing control
- Belief that “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself”
- Fear of being viewed as redundant and dispensable if it appears things are running well without your involvement
- Belief that other people’s work being deemed superior to theirs will make them look inadequate
- Worry that if you leave it to others, they may not do it right
- Belief that “it will be quicker if I just tell them exactly how to do it”
- Poor self-image and insecurities
- Inexperience in management
- Having unskilled, inexperienced workers under you
Strategies to stop micromanaging
Micromanaging is a difficult habit to break. Here are some strategies to get you started trying on the path to stopping.
Reflect on your behaviour
Try and develop an awareness of why you do it. Understanding the fears and insecurities that drive your micromanaging is the first step to stopping. What excuses and reasons are you using to keep doing it?
Practise delegating by assigning tasks to employees based on their abilities, strengths, and goals. Give them an opportunity to learn and grow on the job. It will also decrease your micromanaging impulse.
Determine what your priorities, goals and expectations are and communicate the same to your team. Communicate to them how often you would like updates and be direct about the level of detail you’d like. You can also offer your support by letting them know you’re open to offering your help and availing whatever resources they need. Be a facilitator, not a taskmaster by curbing your micromanaging urge.
Physically remove yourself from the group
Once you’ve assigned tasks and communicated your expectations, remove yourself from the group so that they can execute the task freely without feeling like you are looking over their shoulders.
Trust your team
Set up your team for success by being clear about the skillset and capabilities of the members. Build your employees’ skillset through training and hiring skilled people so that you can have greater confidence when it comes to delegating and stepping back from micromanaging. Assign tasks only to those capable of successfully completing them and constantly equip them with the skills and resources they need.
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