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Are you a micromanager?

Most micromanagers don’t even realise they are one! If you are serious about getting the most out of your team you might want to take some time to reflect on whether or not you have micromanagement tendencies!

HR software company, Breathe HR, believes that “micromanagement is one of the worst, most damaging and morale-sapping ways of managing people, that can seriously affect productivity, employee retention and ultimately, damage people’s health.”

It may not be your intention to micromanage, but certain personality types have a hard time taking a step back.

If you are a hands-on manager, chances are you have propensity to fall into patterns of micromanagement. There is nothing wrong with being a hands-on manager – you can in fact be a great coach, offer helpful feedback and be instrumental in nurturing the career development of your team.

You do, however, also bear the risk of jumping in to help and offer advice when your help and guidance, albeit well-intended, is not wanted. Eroding the autonomy of your staff isn’t a good thing.

At the other end of the management-style spectrum, hands-off management isn’t without its faults. Too much autonomy and freedom can create uncertainty and confusion, with workers unclear about objectives and left with little or no support.

So how do you get the balance right? Can you spot if you are falling into the trap of micromanaging? And what can you do to change if you are one?

Let’s take a look at micromanagement in the workplace in more detail.

What is micromanagement?

are you a micromanager

According to HR Zone, Micromanagement is “a negative term that refers to a management style characterised by extremely close supervision and control of the minor details of an individual’s workload and output.”

Micromanagement is often the tactic of managers who are insecure or those who have perfectionist tendencies. They aren’t micromanaging deliberately – they can’t help themselves. They quite simply lack trust in others.

However, in extreme cases, micromanagement constitutes bullying behaviour and narcissistic personality traits. In these cases, micromanaging is deliberate and even more destructive.

The average micromanager’s motto: If you want a job done properly, do it yourself! A quote apparently attributed to both emperor Napoléon Bonaparte, dramatist Charles-Guillaume Étienne.

The clear signs of micromanagement

There is a difference between being a supportive manager and doing your job well, and being a micromanager. So, how do you know when you are crossing the line?

  • You go to every meeting held by your team members
  • You are obsessed about performance and secretly think that everyone in your team isn’t hitting the mark
  • You want to be cc’d in every email and constantly updated on projects
  • You want to know everything, control everything and get involved in everything
  • You are the only one in the team to make decisions
  • You are working way more than 40 hours per week
  • You are frustrated by the way certain members of your team carry out tasks
  • You take great pride in calling out mistakes and making corrections
  • You find it difficult to delegate
  • You feel riled when employees make decisions without consulting you
  • You take the stage at team meetings and don’t ask team members to contribute
  • You fixate on small details and miss deadlines
  • You demand detailed time-accounting

What are the effects of micromanaging employees?

micromanaging employees

Micromanagement is toxic behaviour – it doesn’t bring out the best in employees. Here are just some of the negative effects:

  • High staff turnover in your team
  • Low employee engagement morale
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • No opportunities for learning
  • A general lack of creativity and innovation
  • Poor productivity and disrupted workflow
  • A negative vibe
  • Poor communication
  • Zero goodwill – staff never go above and beyond
  • Burnout
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Reduced self-belief in the individuals being micromanaged

How to change if you are a micromanager

If you are a diligent, committed hands-on manager, then you’ll need to be aware of your tendency to micromanage. If you find yourself slipping into familiar micromanaging traits, you can take action to change. Here’s how:

  1. Encourage accountability
  2. Communicate expectations
  3. Give employees the power to make decisions
  4. Regularly tune into your behaviour
  5. Trust your team
  6. Delegate
  7. Listen

The moral of this tale? Micromanagement restricts teams, poisons productivity, limits growth and contributes to staff turnover.

Don’t hover and cramp your employees, but don’t assume they don’t need your guidance and support either. A healthy bit of hands-on management coupled with the ability to step back and let your team do their work is the best medicine for happy, healthy and productive employees.

The first step to avoid becoming a micromanager is to recognise the danger signs.

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