When Does Managing Become Micro-Managing?

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Micro management is a style of management whereby a manager is excessively controlling over tasks, details and supervision. It has many negative connotations which at their worst, include bullying. Micromanagement has lots of damaging effects and can result in decreased productivity and high turnover rates.

Most managers wouldn’t set out to micro manage their team but pressures to deliver results could drive them to tighten the reigns on their employees and cross the line into micro management.

What are the signs of a micromanager?

Control

Micromanagers like to be in control and this can manifest itself in a number of ways. They might assign a task to their employee and then closely observe them while they carry it out or they might tell them exactly how it should be done instead of allowing that person to adopt their own approach. The problem with this is it stifles creativity and prevents their employees from developing their problem solving skills. In turn this will have negative effects on morale and motivation of the team.

Lack of delegation

Similarly, micromanagers will usually find it hard to delegate tasks to others because they believe they will do it best and they want to have control over it. This is not good for the manager’s workload or the morale of the team. A good manager should be focussing on the bigger picture and allowing their staff to work on the day to day tasks. They should have trust in their employees to perform and empower them to develop a wide range of skills.

Don’t allow feedback

The best employee manager relationships involve open and honest communication where both sides can share their ideas on things including decision making, approaches to tasks and even management style. The micromanager will usually not have this kind of relationship and instead dictate things to their employees. Allowing for feedback and regular discussion enables managers to recognise when their team members are demotivated or less engaged in their work and they can act on this appropriately. In contrast, a dictatorial leadership style will lead to higher staff turnover because issues will be left unresolved and staff will feel completely undervalued.

How to deal with micromanagers

Whether you’ve spotted the signs of micromanaging in your team or even within your own style of management it can be tricky to address.

Micromanagement is often a result of lack of confidence and insecurity which can come as a surprise because these tend to be the people who appear to be most confident and hardworking. There is usually a deeper reason that managers behave in this way and it’s usually because they’re trying to hide or compensate for something.

Try and build their trust by feeding them with regular updates of your progress no matter how tedious it may feel. Over compensate, keep a record of everything and make them aware of every detail. Hopefully this will help you build a relationship with them and in turn you can use this to open up the conversation about how you’re feeling.

If you are a manager who is concerned they might be micromanaging then ask for feedback! It’s a simple and effective way to check in with your team and find out how you can improve. After all, every single one of us can always improve on some things and if this has a positive impact on your team then everyone is a winner.

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