Becoming aware of your micromanager tendencies

Leading others is as much an art form as it is a skill set. Helping others develop as they perform their jobs is the calling of every leader. On the flip-side, the bane of every hard-working employee is a leader who micromanages rather than develops others. Being micromanaged is one of the biggest bugbears of employees.   If asked, none of us wants to admit that we are a micromanager. How then are we to determine if we are one of the ones guilty of micromanaging? Here is a list of 7 signs that you may be a micromanager.

1. Lack of Delegation

Micromanagers have trouble delegating. When they do delegate to others, the assignment is more a list of step-by-step instructions on how to do something.  They will often delegate responsibility, but not the necessary authority to successfully complete a task or assignment. Employees are expected to report constantly on progress. Cue the Jeff Foxworthy voice here: “If you can’t delegate a task without explaining how it needs to be done, you might be a micromanager.”

2. Focus on Detail

Micromanagers are so focused on the details that they often lose sight of the big picture. When they delegate, the focus is on the details rather than the outcome. Effective leaders trust their team to get it right.  They let them figure out the detail and the how of achieving results.  They leave the details to the person who is doing the work.

3. Lack of Teamwork

Micromanagers tend to have all the answers, and rarely ask others what they think.  Rather than rely on the skills, strengths and abilities of others, the micromanager needs to be in control.  Often, they will meet behind closed doors with others in management, then materialize to give direction to those who are doing the work. Since they already know what is best, they make the decisions, then pass down those decisions to their employees. A good leader will get input from those doing the work before making decisions that affect that work.

4. Decision Restriction

Micromanagers need to feel like they are in control. This trait limits the decision making of others in the team.  Others in the team are not able to make decisions without the manager’s approval. The lack of timely decision making causes bottlenecks in the organisation and employees become frustrated.  The underlying thought by the employees is a lack of trust on the part of the manager.  Employees begin to feel under-valued and insignificant.

5. Information Flow Control

Micromanagers need to control the flow of information to others. They will insist on being the point person for contact with other employees or management. In effect, they become a bottleneck in the information pipeline. They become a middleman between you and the person you need to communicate with. Their only function in this role is to be a go-between in your communication with others. They pass your information to others and relay the other information back to you. But it helps them maintain the control they need to feel powerful. By shutting down effective collaboration, the micromanager slows the progress of their employees.

6. Red Pen Crazy

Leaders are interested in the development of others. Micromanagers are more interested in the correction of others. They love to point out the mistakes that others have made. More often than not, the “mistakes” are made in the area of the process, not progress. By correcting others, they feel more powerful and feed their need for recognition. Employees will begin to avoid the micromanager because they know he or she is going to find fault in something they have done. If you find more to criticize your employees for than you do to praise them for, you could be a micromanager.

7. Bogged Down

Micromanagers will become bogged down with work that is not in their job description. Since they feel that they are the only ones qualified to do the work correctly, they will often assume the responsibility for the work. They will delegate easy or boring work to others while keeping the “important” work for themselves. Leaders instil a sense of trust in their employees. Micromanagers display the opposite. The motto of the micromanager is “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

What Now?

After going through this list, can you see any traits of a micromanager in yourself? Micromanaging costs organizations of all sorts countless time, energy and money. Good employees become frustrated. Eventually, they quit and leave. The high turnover and low productivity caused by micromanagement are very costly. Have you been the victim of micromanagement? What would you add to this list?

Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

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Tom is an author, speaker, and coach. His specialty is leadership development in churches and helping churches identify obstacles to growth.