Are You In Danger of Becoming A Micromanager?

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Jan 11, 2018

There’s so much talk about the difference between leaders and bosses, but the question in itself is flawed – it assumes that everyone in a management role falls into the same bucket. Fundamentally, the two concepts are different. Anyone, in any role, at any level in the organizational chart can be a leader, regardless of if they have people reporting to them or not. Managers, on the other hand, have direct reports in the official org chart. They’re responsible for the experience of the people reporting to them.

The real question people are getting at is the difference between being an effective manager that motivates, inspires, and empower their team, and the dreaded micromanager. Defining what a micromanager is or isn’t is hard, because there are so many traits that can contribute to the experience people have with micromanagement. Here’s a chart to get us started.

Think you might be falling into the habits of the micro-managers of the world? 

It’s important that you not be too hard on yourself. When you’re busy and stressed out, they can be very easy habits to fall into. And the more you judge yourself, the lower your chances of being able to turn things. Instead, take on the role of an observer. Every experience your team has with you ever day contributes to their perception of you as a boss, and of the organization. What messages are you sending when you push back on every idea? Demand to be included in every meeting and cc:’d on every email? Freak out about every failure, even when you haven’t really given your team members the support they need to be successful? Or, perhaps the ultimate question, would you like it if your boss treated you the way you treat your staff?

Recognize that you didn’t develop these habits overnight, and it will probably take a little bit of time to change them. Make your goals small and manageable, just trying to do a little better every day.

  • Keep track of the type of feedback you’re giving your team – what’s the ratio of positive to negative? Look for opportunities to give more positive recognition for a job well done.
  • Change the way you do your one-on-one meetings, setting a new expectation that this will be the place for regular, consistent updates so that you don’t have to be in every meeting and on every email.
  • If someone doesn’t get the results they were hoping for on a project, recognize it as a learning opportunity and ask them how they’re going to improve in the future.
  • Ask your team for feedback – get their honest thoughts about what you’re doing well, what you’re not doing so well, and what they’d like you to start doing that you’re not doing already.

Most of all, get yourself in a mindset that allows you to let go of control. This is the root problem for most micromanagers. The greatest power you can ever exercise as a manager is giving up control to empower your team members, recognizing that when they succeed that is a win for you.

This was originally published on Zen Workplace.