It’s a common misconception that micromanaging is just being a mean boss. You can easily assume, ‘I’m a nice person, so I can’t be a micromanager.’ It’s not always easy to see that you are micromanaging. That won’t stop this micromanaging habit from having a huge impact on your ability to lead other leaders. Some leaders genuinely believe they are helping their reporting leaders when they are actually micromanaging. You might believe this approach ensures quality results, but unfortunately, this behaviour drives your leaders crazy, eventually causing them to lose confidence, make fewer decisions and reduce productivity.
If you find yourself constantly needing to be in control or feel the need to know everything that is going on, you may be micromanaging without realising it.
Are you a micromanager?
Here are a few signs that you might be micromanaging:
- You feel the need to be in control of every action.
- Your leadership team is disengaged and not producing top-quality work, while you are constantly following up on them and working late yourself.
- You feel like your leaders aren’t loyal or dedicated if they don’t do exactly what you always say.
- You take it very personally when your leaders fail to ensure work is completed according to your expectations, no matter how unrealistic those expectations might be.
- You feel the need to keep an eye out for people trying to ‘cheat the system’.
Micromanagement is when you closely supervise every detail of your leaders and their teams’ work, not trusting them to use their judgment. Micromanaging can come in many forms, but one thing’s for sure – if you are doing it, everyone will know. But you may not. Micromanagers usually have a lack of trust or belief in people, which leads to them being overly controlling to satisfy their need to hold more power over others than necessary.
If this sounds like you, then you’re probably micromanaging. Another common reason why people tend to micromanage is that they’re stuck in the habits of their old role. If you were promoted into a role where you are now leading other leaders, then it’s possible you haven’t learned how to lead at this level yet. This tends to be the case with leaders who are micromanaging without realising it. It’s time to let go of your old team leader practices and start working at the right job level.
Here’s how to stop micromanaging
To change this behaviour before it becomes a bigger issue, follow these simple tips:
- Trust your leaders more. Give them space to work and allow them to use their own initiative. This will show that you have faith in their abilities, and they will respect you for it.
- Set realistic deadlines and expectations. This ensures your leaders don’t feel pressured to meet unrealistic demands.
- Delegate tasks whenever possible. And be sure to provide clear scope on what is expected of each of your leaders.
- Encourage two-way communication. This will enable your leaders to shape projects and workflows with you.
- Check-in systematically. Set up regular, agree review times at intervals that give your leaders enough time to make progress.
If you can successfully implement these tips, you will be on the right track to stopping micromanagement in its tracks. To learn more about leading other leaders without micromanaging, take a look at my book ‘Becoming a leader of leaders: How to succeed in bigger jobs and still have a life‘.