By Alyssa Gregory

Are You a Micromanager?

By Alyssa Gregory

If you have a team or employees, you would probably consider it a serious criticism if someone you work with called you a micromanager.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, micromanagement is “to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details.” At the core, it doesn’t sound so bad. But if you are being considered a micromanager by your team, your effectiveness as a manager and a leader is at serious risk.


Why Micromanagement Is Bad

If you’ve ever been micromanaged, you know how much it stinks and all the bad, bad things that can come from it. Here are a few:

  • Micromanagement tells your team you don’t trust them or respect their work.
  • Micromanagement means you are not delegating effectively.
  • Micromanagement strips all sense of ownership your team members have in their work.
  • Micromanagement can make your team members lose confidence in themselves and their ability.
  • Micromanagement makes everyone involved resentful.
  • Micromanagement wastes time that could be spent much more productively.
  • Micromanagement prevents team members from developing the skills and knowledge they need to work autonomously.

You Might Be a Micromanager If…

There is a fine line between being a thorough manager who wants to his or her team to put out the best results possible and micromanaging. Here are a few clues that you might be moving toward the micromanagement side of the scale.

  • You need to know what everyone is doing, all the time.
  • You have more work than you can handle because you can’t delegate effectively.
  • You tell your team exactly how you want things done and leave them no room for them to take initiative.
  • Your team avoids you and all one-on-one conversations with you.
  • You continuously take on project manager roles, even when there already is a project manager.
  • You rarely complete projects on time because you can’t get past the little details.
  • You don’t let any of your team members contribute ideas, communicate with clients or even talk to each other.
  • You frequently assign work, then take it back because it’s not getting done the way you want it done.
  • You become the bottleneck because everyone is always waiting for your approval.
  • Your team has unreasonably high turnover.
  • You insist on having regular status meetings, then question the process, work completed and next steps every time.
  • You feel that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

If some of these statements ring true for you and your shirt is starting to feel a little tight around the collar, read on for tips to help you stop micromanaging.

Image credit: brainloc

  • JR

    “Micromanagement tells your team you don’t trust them or respect their work….Micromanagement strips all sense of ownership your team members have in their work.”

    As someone who is currently working through the issue of bringing on help for a growing business, I have to disagree with these two points.

    First and foremost, trust and responsibility are not mutually exclusive. I just hired an assistant who happens to be one of my closest friends (she’s also highly experienced and has a masters degree in my field, so it wasn’t pseudo-nepotism). Despite the fact that I trust her more than just about anybody in my life, I still had her sign a contract, a confidentiality agreement, and put systems in place to make sure she doesn’t have access to any information she doesn’t explicitly need. It has absolutely nothing to do with trust – it is 100% about responsible action, fiduciary duty, and the principle of least privilege. It would be (criminally and civilly) irresponsible, a breach of my fiduciary duty, and a violation of one of the most important security principles to allow unrestricted access to my business. I won’t deny that there isn’t a point where responsibility ends and micromanagement begins, but I do deny that micromanagement is a sign of distrust.

    As for a sense of ownership, I’m all for my team taking pride in their work and feeling a personal responsibility for getting results, but they will never have the ownership of their work that I have. I own the company. I put my name, my reputation, and my livelihood in jeopardy every time I accept a project, whether I complete it myself or delegate it. If they screw up and I lose my business, they just move on and get a job with someone else while I file for Chapter 7. *I* and *nobody* else own the work that is done, and I’m going to act to protect it.

    There is a huge difference between being responsible for something (having the obligation to see it to fruition and bear the consequences of failing to) and owning something (being able to do whatever you damn well please with it and not having to answer to anyone for your actions). At the point that my team starts feeling they own their work – and before long, my business – I’m in big trouble. I have no intention of micromanaging my team, but I damn well will be watching to make sure my name, my reputation, and my livelihood don’t go down the drain because I was stupid enough to trust people blindly.

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