Micromanagers aren’t bad people, they are just incredibly detail oriented, have a hands on attitude and want to make sure a project is as successful as possible. Despite their best intentions however, they can come off as control obsessed, ruin their team members’ confidence and hurt their performance. They may even cause so much frustration, that the office morale collapses and employees quit.
It can be difficult to trust others, but colleagues are a work family and communicating about these issues can not only help project success, but ensure everyone on your team feels respected and fulfilled.
So where is the line between concerned boss and over-involved manager who is driving everyone crazy? In this article we identify the 5 Signs You’re a Micromanager, so you can improve on these overzealous tendencies. If your boss falls in this category, we’ll also outline some strategies you can use to help him or her accept delegation with grace and allow you to maintain your independence.
Marks of a micromanager
- You don’t delegate
- You immerse yourself in overseeing other people’s projects
- You correct tiny details instead of looking at the big picture
- You take back delegated work quickly if it is not “perfect”
- You discourage others from making decisions without you
Why do people do it?
There are many reasons underlying this behavior and the inability to let go. Often, the manager used to do the work they are delegating and they either miss it, or think they can do it better. Perhaps they see someone making a mistake and they want to stop it or try to help, not understanding that allowing team members to make mistakes is often the best way to learn. Many times, the manager sees the project as too important to fail and therefore, acts from this fear.
How micromanaging nurtures a damaging culture
Career analyst and TED speaker Dan Pink discusses three drivers which motivate teams - mastery, autonomy and purpose. When you micromanage (or are micromanaged), it depresses at least two, if not three, of these motivating factors. Rather, these actions lead to dysfunction, poor performance, employee attrition, stifled innovation and learning. If you don’t allow your colleagues space, how do you know what they are capable of? People on the team were hired for a reason. Allowing them to do their job not only helps them to feel fulfilled and therefore, more likely to stay, but if you allow them space, you can properly evaluate their performance in case they do need to make improvements or worst case, be fired.
How to stop micromanaging
Changing behavior and management styles doesn’t happen overnight. Start slowly and make sure you communicate with your team, and let them know that you are making an effort to delegate more and allow them more autonomy with projects. Look for the least important processes and start letting go. Compare risks to the skills of the team member and if the project or task calls for more experience, assign is to a more seasoned colleague and either way after, walk away - resist the urge to hover.
We have a tendency as managers to think everything is of the utmost importance. It is time to stop caring about the unimportant and choose your battles carefully.
Sometimes bringing up a small thing isn’t worth disturbing your team member’s confidence.
To avoid mistakes, remind your team members they can come to you if they have a question or a problem. Let them know you are there to support them but that you trust they can accomplish the task set before them.
Most importantly, it is difficult for colleagues to live up to your expectations if they don’t know what those are. Meet with your employees one on one. Let them know the expected goals and discuss how they feel in their position and where they see themselves growing.
To simplify communication and collaboration, use Taskworld to manage projects and tasks. You can see project and task progress, review files and by simply looking at Overview and Analytics, you will know how every team member is doing without even approaching their desk.
There may be a bit of an adjustment period and culture shock as a result of your new form of management, but when you stop micro-managing, performance will increase, making for less stress and happier employees. And hey, you’ll also look better if the team performance improves!
Is there ever a time when micromanaging is okay?
After writing all the ways this style hurts the team, there are three exceptions:
- A new hire could need a period of shadowing and in-depth training and care.
- There could be some real problems with team performance that affect costs or even worse, legal issues. These are two times when an issue may really be that important that it requires a bit of hand-holding.
- If a team member has been reassigned or had some issue with a performance review and is on an improvement plan, this may require special attention from a manager and consistent communication.
I am the micro-managed - help!
We have identified the habits and behaviors of the micro-manager, but what if you are the harried employee? This situation can be much more complicated and likely, you are feeling frustrated and not as fulfilled in your position as you could be. However, there are some things you can do to empower yourself in the situation and communicate how this issue is affecting the team.
You can help your manager to delegate by asking for all relevant information up front and setting clear check-in points along the way that allow you independence, but the manager to check on progress. You can also volunteer for any projects you feel confident to take on. This will build trust and your boss will be more apt to delegate in the future if you deliver results.
Micromanaging isn’t good for anyone. It restricts the ability for growth and independence, stifles performance and leaves team members feeling unfulfilled. When a boss is unwilling to delegate and focuses on details instead of the big picture, it’s a sure sign they’re heading into the micro zone. Whether you are the micro-manager or micro-managed, communicate with the team on how you can enable more autonomy or help your boss to see a better way of working.
Using Taskworld to manage projects and tasks, track updates and progress and share and chat about files, can help to avoid micro-manging and keep the whole team in touch and on track. Sign up for your free trial now