Micromanaging. Everyone who has ever worked as part of the typical office workforce can attest to at least one boss who was a micromanager. They’re dreaded and feared, and when push comes to shove either their people snap or they do.
In her article from Harvard Business Review, Muriel Maignan Wilkins states “The problem with micromanagers is that they apply the same level of intensity, scrutiny and in-your-face approach to every task, whether warranted or not.” This doesn’t apply to you, though, does it? You just want everything to be perfect, and you don’t quite trust others to handle that.
You have a plan but don’t explain it fully. You’re not a micromanager, you talk to your team all the time! You’ve told them what you expected and what needed to get done; they just failed to do it. Do you find yourself thinking this often?
Consider again what you’ve told them. Did you lay out the steps needed at the outset of the project, or wait until the end to criticize? As contradictory as it may seem, saying more is actually a way to avoid micromanagement. Your employees will be able to step up to the plate when they have clear expectations. This has a lot to do with them not having to worry about trying to read your mind.
You Have Systems — Lots Of Systems Do you have a system for everything? One for how the mail is sorted, one for how files are sorted and then a third for how meetings are scheduled? Not to mention everything has to go through you and meet your approval?
That’s not micromanaging, right? Just a matter of things needing to be done a certain way and your way being the best way. In and of itself, having systems isn’t a bad thing. It can actually help your workflow go more smoothly. Assess your systems and see if they’re helpful. When tempered with trust and good communication, your systems can make it easier to let go and step back without having to let go entirely.
You constantly want to know where all your team members are and what they’re working on. Being cc’d on everything, daily check ins, weekly meetings, regular end of day emails… you have it all implemented. Your team is a well oiled machine and you know every part. Is it starting to wear on everyone, though? Do you have more attitude from your employees than you’d expect, or are they falling behind in getting work done? Having to constantly be part of what’s going on and being unable to allow your team to work freely can lead to a decrease in their production, and in yours as well.
You laser in on the details and take great pride and/or pain in making corrections. When a project is finished, you go over it with a fine-toothed comb. In fact, you go over and over it to pick out and point out every mistake made. What others see is not only a lack of trust, but flat-out insult. What you consider due diligence is, from their perspective, you ripping their work to shreds.
If you see yourself in any of the points above, look at ways you can improve your delegation skills and empower your employees to be accountable for their own work. Explain what needs to be accomplished and let your employees figure out the best way for them to complete their part. Accept that getting the work done correctly and getting the work done your way is not always the same thing. Letting go of the small details will free up time for you to be a true manager.