7 Warning Signs You're the Dreaded Micromanager
Diagnose yourself before your employees do it for you with their feet by marching out the door.
This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Strategic Management, a new book containing insights from more than 20 contributors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.
Micromanagers are notorious for causing high-stress levels, low morale, loss of productivity and dread in the office, among other negative repercussions. In fact, they are every employees’ worst nightmare come true. A micromanaging boss kills efficiency with out-dated, self-centered and underdeveloped management methods.
But, to be fair, no manager is queuing up for this undesirable role. In fact, most fear turning into a micromanager. The line between an efficient manager and a micromanager is sometimes blurred, and it’s easy to cross it, unaware you’re on a slippery slope to becoming a dysfunctional boss.
Let’s look at the signal characteristics of a secret micromanager in the making:
1. You're scared of losing control.
Because of your need to control, you’re obsessed with knowing what staff are doing. And, everything must be done your way or you’re not satisfied. Therefore, you often call back work you assign because it’s not up to your standards. On top of that, you dish out instructions, but make it impossible for your team to input their own ideas. As a result, you stifle their creativity, communication and self-development, while leaving no option for effective productivity. Holding on tightly to control out of fear will eventually cause you to lose it in the end.
2. You alone have the best approach to every task.
Believing you know best, you view your employees’ work as inferior. Therefore, your actions scream that their work is substandard, a strong sign that you’re micromanaging. You don’t give them the opportunity to use their skills, talents and know-how. Instead, you implement all the ideas, take control of communicating with clients and make decisions based on your knowledge. Believing you have all the answers for resolving tasks, you work on them solo. This attitude pushes employees aside causing them to doubt their own capabilities.
3. You're itching to lead.
Leading is not a bad thing. On the other hand, a forceful boss who is unwilling to negotiate, always interfering and unable to offer flexibility, is a poor leader. Continual interference is a sign you lack confidence in your employees. Nevertheless, there are times when it’s necessary to lead, especially in large financial transactions, vital decision-making or other important business areas requiring managerial authority. However, if you’re always in the driver's seat and find it difficult to allow employees to manage everyday tasks, this creates uncertainty and resentment. As an alternative, train staff, build trust and support them.
4. You suspect everybody wastes time and resources.
One of the most annoying traits of a micromanager is their suspicion. Because you suspect everyone is either wasting time or company resources, you are always prying. You command a detailed record of phone calls, meetings, spending, tasks or anything else you think could be wasted. This obsession brings stress on everyone. Constantly judging and prying will eventually create lack of faith in you and drive employees out of the company.
5. You organize endless, unnecessary meetings.
Micromanagers use any excuse to call for a meeting. Usually, these meetings are nothing to do with work productivity. They are a pretext for finding irrelevant faults. Or you attend meetings to get your points across in discussions that don’t require your presence. Another sign is insisting all employees attend meetings, whether the topic is relevant to them or not. Unnecessary drawn-out meetings end up wasting precious time, cutting into efficiency and breeding confusion.
6. You second-guess the practice of delegating.
Everyone has the same amount of time during the day. However, your time seems less than others. Could this be because you don’t know how to delegate? Each day you’re overloaded with trivial tasks and projects that rarely gets completed. Lack of delegation and communication with your employees forces you to micromanage rather than distribute responsibilities. Instead of retracting delegated tasks, allow employees to handle jobs within their capability. Practice developing your delegation skills to reduce your workload and give employees a sense of ownership.
7. You're trying to run a one-man show.
Perhaps you have the attitude that micromanagement means taking on everything by yourself. Consequently, you lack faith in your employees’ abilities and bear the brunt of the workload. You’re busy fretting about their productivity and criticizing their work, leaving you little time to manage properly. Rather than working with them to develop a competent team, you set them up to depend on you. This leads to increased workload and bigger pressures on you, amplifying the danger of impending burnout.
Finally, perhaps you have good intentions at heart but still cross the line over into becoming a micromanager. If you identified with any of the earlier danger signs, you are now in better position to improve your management skills. One way to improve working relationships is to get regular feedback from staff. Reflect on the response, measure yourself against their comments and take action to implement the necessary changes. Transform yourself from being a dreaded micromanager to becoming a valued, respected leader.