How to overcome micromanagement

Office micromanagers work weekends and long hours, putting in the necessary time to complete their given tasks. They struggle to allow themselves to take holidays and don’t let anyone else approve anything on their behalf

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on About Leaders

Micromanagers are not great at delegating tasks because they believe that they’re the only ones that can do it and get it done right the first time. To make sure they know the task has been done right the first time, they require others to CC them in all relevant messages. While office micromanagers are good at what they do, they are usually detrimental to your organisation and alienate other employees.

No matter how big or small the activity of your organisation is, these micromanagers feel the need to control every part of it. According to reports and studies, there are two possible reasons why managers can turn into micromanagers:

  • They are anxious or worried about not being connected to the processes of the lowest-ranked employees.
  • They have climbed the ranks to get where they are today and are unwilling to let go of their previous position.

While these are the two main reasons, there is also another possible reason for the existence of micromanager; due to insecurities, these people feel they need to maintain a high level of control.

Why micromanaging is counterproductive

Micromanagers feel the need to take control of every aspect they are in charge of; they actively hinder the growth, and stifle the potential, of their colleagues. By removing the ability of others to think and act for themselves, micromanagers have a negative impact on the confidence and morale of the team. Talented individuals cannot thrive in this type of environment and, as a result, they will either fail in reaching their true potential or will leave the organisation.

Innovation is subdued in such environments because mistakes aren’t usually tolerated by micromanagers – but mistakes are how we humans learn and grow. Additionally, while micromanagers are busy doing the job of everyone else, their own responsibilities get placed on the backburner. 

If you recognise yourself here, you are not alone. There is, at the very least, a small micromanager somewhere in all of us. However, the good news is that there are several ways to break this habit.

Recognise the problem 

You might be a micromanager and not even recognise the signs. Gathering information can help determine if your actions are those of a micromanager. If you feel comfortable, and have a good rapport with your team, ask them how they feel about your management style. If you are uncomfortable with this, or feel like it would somehow undermine your leadership, you can ask other peers in your field.

Another excellent approach is to stop and think the next time you have an important project on your desk. You may realise that there is too much to do in the time frame that you have been given; most people would recognise that the solution here is to delegate. 

How does the thought of delegating make you feel? Does it make you feel anxious? Does it feel risky to do so? If so, you may be a micromanager. 

Realise that you’re not alone

According to reports and surveys most employees have stated that they have, at one point, worked with a micromanager. 59% say they worked for a micromanaging boss in their career and, of these, 68% reported that this style of management decreased their overall morale in the workplace. These numbers alone should be enough to motivate you to change your style of management.

Recognise why micromanaging is harmful

This is not a style of management that is consciously adopted; no-one thinks, ‘I’m going to stifle my employees by taking over their work and making sure they can’t think for themselves’. That said, recognising that you’ve adopted this management style is an essential part of moving forward. 

Even if it is not your intention, micromanaging shows your team that you do not have trust or faith in them and it is, effectively, taking away from the time you should be spending on thinking like a leader. 

By not focusing on the bigger picture, setting the stage for future growth and making sure your team has the necessary tools and skills to succeed, you are, ultimately, contributing to their downfall.

Rethink your role

By recognising that what got you to where you are today is not necessarily what is going to keep you there, you can start to be more successful in your career. In addition to developing your vision and strategy, your job now is to foster the growth of the individuals on your team. You need to create a strong team environment, where you can provide your people with the tools they need to grow their skills. Reward them for their effort. Create a culture where accomplishments are acknowledged and people are not afraid to ask for honest feedback on their work. 

In the end, you will want to create an environment that people desire to work in. Once you do this, the habit of micromanaging will recede because your team will be more productive and fulfilled.

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