How to Avoid Being a Micromanaging Boss

It’s normal and healthy for a manager to be emotionally invested in the success of his or her company, and managing staff members effectively is an important part of that process. But sometimes it goes beyond responsible leadership into micromanagement.

If you suspect that you could be micromanaging those around you, or if you have been told by others that it is happening, it’s time to change course. Micromanaging is very frustrating to those working with you and can cause you to lose good talent. Let’s take a look at what micromanaging is and how you can avoid it.

What Does It Mean to Be a Micromanager?

Micromanagement is a business management style where the boss or manager controls every aspect, no matter how small, of the work done by his or her employees. This is generally frowned upon because it takes away the freedom of others within the workplace. Oftentimes, it causes employees to feel as if you don’t trust them and will cause a drop in morale, high staff turnover, and a general lack of motivation among your team members.

Signs of Micromanaging

There are some common tell-tale signs of a micromanager, and many managers don’t realize they are exhibiting these behaviors. If you identify with any of these, you may be guilty of this management style.

  • You are hyper-focused on making corrections, even when it comes to the most minor details.
  • You always want to know exactly what your staff members are doing.
  • You request frequent updates on the current standing of projects or tasks.
  • You hand projects off to others, and then take them back.
  • You want to be copied on all emails, whether or not they pertain to you directly.
  • You’re never satisfied with the work produced by others.
  • It frustrates you when people do things differently than you would do.
  • You are always looking over the shoulder (physically or electronically) of your employees.

If you can relate to some or all of the identifiers above, you may be guilty of micromanaging. Not to worry, though. It’s never too late to change course. Read on for tips to help you ease up on your tendencies, avoid burnout (for both you and your team), and become a better leader.

How Can I Stop Micromanaging?

Here are some tips to help you develop a more hands-off approach to management.

Learn to delegate the right tasks to the right people.

Recognize what aspects of a project or job your employees are most comfortable with and then step back and let them do their work. There’s no need to micromanage what they are doing unless they request your assistance or are not producing the quality of work that is expected.

Make your expectations clear from the start.

Instead of focusing on all the items that need to get done, try communicating the expectations of the project or job so all employees are on the same page. They will generally do what needs to be done to meet those expectations without having to be overmanaged.

Ask your employees how they would like to be managed.

Good leaders seek feedback from their staff on how they would like to be supervised. Try asking them when they would like to check in with you on pending items or how they would like to be held accountable. This gives your staff members the opportunity to provide great feedback, builds trust, and gives them more workplace autonomy.

Focus on taking care of the things that only you can do, and let your staff handle everything else.

 If that isn’t currently possible, train your staff appropriately so you can delegate jobs to them.

Keep the lines of communication open.

Remember, you are there to facilitate—not to crack the whip. Communicate your expectations for the team, and make it clear to your team that you are available should questions or issues arise. This will help your team share and participate in your vision without you having to underscore every task that needs to be done.

Show your team that you trust them.

Sometimes trust issues come into play with micromanagers who feel that they can do a better job than anyone else. This is something you need to work through on your own. If it’s true that your staff members aren’t doing something well, help them understand what can be tweaked while providing constructive feedback. Then step away and let them do their jobs.

Create a transparent work environment.

Many micromanagers feel like they are “out of the loop” on projects and can’t see what’s going on in real time without actually questioning others. Consider using a project management tool, like SharePoint or Basecamp, where you can see everything that is going on with your project without being overbearing.

Remember that good leadership isn’t about your personal ambitions.

As a servant leader, you should be focused on developing the people on your team to their greatest potential rather than pursuing your personal ambitions. This will help them with their development and will help you shine as a leader.

It’s important to remember that part of management is being detail oriented and leading your team to deliver amazing results. It is possible to do this without getting into the weeds of tasks that others are perfectly capable of handling for you. Hopefully these tips will help you be a better, happier, and more productive leader.

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