How can you tell if a leader is a micromanager? What are the telltale signs that you’re a micromanager? There are times when hands-on management is helpful to an organization.
Managers who get their hands dirty alongside their team members earn the respect of the latter.
Hands-on managers learn more about how the processes within the organization work.
Hands-on managers are closer to their team members because they are involved with each other’s tasks.
This closeness encourages open communication where ideas can be thrown back and forth without an invisible wall setting a rigid boundary.
But there are times when a hands-on management approach goes to the extreme.
Extreme hands-on managers run the risk of becoming a controlling boss.
And if you are a controlling boss, then there’s a high chance that you are a micromanager.
Micromanaging employees is known to result in employee dissatisfaction, less than enthusiastic workplace atmosphere, lack of positive communication, avoidance, high turnover, decreased productivity, and low morale.
Often, hands-on managers who transition to micromanagers are surprised by the gradual change of their relationship with their team members.
What used to be a productive relationship becomes a distant one.
That’s because most micromanagers aren’t aware that they are one.
So it’s about time that you go through this list and see if you possess the signs of a micromanager.
Also included are the symptoms and the effects of micromanaging in specific areas.
You Love To Attend Meetings
Symptom: You feel that your team members are not spending their meeting time well.
Sign: You make it a point to always attend all of their meetings just to make sure.
If you feel the pressured to attend your team’s meeting just to make sure that they’re spending the time well, you should take a break instead.
That’s because if you’re a micromanager, a typical sign is that you won’t simply be checking in on your team, you end up presiding over the meeting just so it proceeds the way you want it to.
Symptom: You’re worried that your team members might say something wrong to your boss during their meeting.
Sign: You join the meeting even if you’re not included in the invite and even if it doesn’t concern you.
Or you don’t permit them to go at all.
What will they tell the boss apart from what’s actually been going on in your team, with your tasks, and maybe you?
One of the signs or traits to show you’re a micromanager is irrational thinking.
You just can’t get around the thought that your team members are capable enough to express themselves before the boss even if they won’t be using your exact sentences.
Symptom: You feel that your team members need detailed instructions.
Sign: You give too detailed instructions, effectively telling them to do it your way.
Over-instructing is one of the signs you’re a micromanager.
Your team members may forgive you for doing that though if the task is way too complicated.
But the problem is, you do it even to the simplest of tasks.
Worse, you call your team members to a long meeting even if some of them will not be involved in the task.
You Love To Do It All
Symptom: You think that your team members are not top performers.
Sign: You impose one performance standard: your standard.
Eventually, micromanaging employees can cause you to have a team of real underperformers who are happy to let you work on everything.
That’s because top performers don’t work with micromanagers.
So it pays to reframe your mind.
Remember that team performance is a reflection of the manager’s performance.
The team manager or leader is ultimately responsible for the performance of his/her team.
Symptom: You constantly feel the need to clean up your “For Approval” folder.
Sign: You constantly stay back to work long hours or do unpaid overtime.
Some of the effects of micromanaging can get personal: burnout.
You feel that it’s fine for you to sacrifice what’s supposed to be your personal time just to get through your pipeline of work that needs approval.
You’re too busy making sure that your team’s output mirrors the output you want so you constantly work long hours fixing this just so you can meet upcoming deadlines.
Symptom: You feel that things have to be done correctly.
Sign: You do most of the work yourself.
You not only check every tiny detail of your team members’ work; you also take over tasks that they’re supposed to be doing.
That’s because you feel that they’re not doing it correctly.
As a consequence, you no longer have time to focus on your team’s productivity.
Because of you, some tasks end up getting completed late because you had to take over and redo them.
You Don’t Know Your Priorities
Symptom: You always think that you’re doing things better.
Sign: You have trouble when it comes to delegating work.
The inability to delegate tasks to your team is another sign that you’re a micromanager.
You are oblivious to the 70 – 30 or the 80 – 20 rule that most managers adapt.
That is, if you get an output that is 70 or 80% as good as your job, then delegate it.
Use the remaining percentage to do higher-level tasks.
Because you just refuse to delegate, your desk is a stockpile of work that needs to be approved and that needs to be done.
Symptom: You feel that you need to know everything that your team members are doing.
Sign: You require an update almost every minute.
You may have a strange feeling that your team members are talking about you.
That may well be true because you keep on asking them to give you an update about what they’re doing at the moment.
You reason that you must meet the deadline but what you won’t admit is that you can’t wait to get your hands on correcting or simply redoing their output.
Symptom: You feel the need to ensure that everyone is being productive.
Sign: You constantly peek over your team members’ shoulders.
This, alongside unnecessary activities like attending meetings that don’t concern you and asking for updates, account for a decrease in productivity on your end.
So instead of you focusing on your tasks as a manager, you’ve effectively demoted yourself to becoming a floor supervisor.
All in the name of productivity that you yourself are failing at.
Your Team Communication Is Strained
Symptom: You feel irritated when your team does not consult you for a decision.
Sign: You make it a rule for your team members to seek approval from you before proceeding.
Being micromanaged at work, especially when it involves the inability to make independent decisions, can cause employees to lose morale.
Your desire to know everything by way of approval disturbs their pace to move forward to the next steps of their tasks.
It also teaches them to be dependent and to feel that their input has little value.
Symptom: You suspect that your team members are not talking to you that much.
Sign: You organize unnecessary meetings, open forums, etc. to get them to open up to you.
The problem is that your micromanager traits have caused your team members to resent you.
Give employees a certain degree of freedom to work on tasks using their own approach.
Your controlling attitude is causing your team to pull back.
They know that you have solutions to everything anyway.
This is another dangerous sign that you’re a micromanager.
Symptom: You feel that you’re supposed to see everyone else’s emails.
Sign: You require your team members to copy you on all emails.
The fact is, people now overuse emails.
The number of new emails clogging managers’ inboxes on a daily basis is ridiculous.
As a result, they’re now looking for ways to significantly cut down on email usage.
But you’re different.
Even though you know that requiring everyone to copy you in on their emails can lead to inaction from your team and insecure team members, you still experience peace of mind by checking your inbox every minute.
Your Performance Status Is Problematic
Symptom: You must be on top of your game on a daily basis.
Sign: You’re busy ‘managing’ your team instead of leading them.
Your team submits consecutive projects beyond the deadline.
There is an absence of a team strategy.
There is an increase in incomplete high-level reports.
These are sure enough signs that you’re a micromanager to your team.
You get to the stage where you have too much on your shoulders such that your boss is taking notice.
Your controlling approach at managing people can cost you your career prospects or the growth of your business.
Symptom: Your team has a high turnover rate.
Sign: None of your original team members are left.
Being micromanaged at work can lead to a high decrease in staff numbers.
If your team members are alternately asking management to transfer them to another team or department, you should be concerned.
It could be a sign that you’re a micromanager.
That’s because team members who love working with their managers will not spend time thinking of a reason to transfer or to quit altogether.
Symptom: You feel that there’s not goodwill within your team.
Sign: Your team engagement is low.
This you need to remember: team members who have inspiring managers may become brand ambassadors.
That’s because as a manager, you represent the organization at a higher level.
Often, rank and file employees have no idea of how their CEO looks like in person.
This makes you the representative of the CEO and the first close experience of your team when it comes to the organization.
If you control your team members too much, they’re more likely to talk about you with other people.
If other people often hear a negative narrative about you, then they may form an equally bad image of your organization.
So going over the signs and symptoms of a micromanager above, how do you see yourself?
If you’re a showing the above signs, then you are a micromanager, so be careful.
Before you take the fall for the negative effects of micromanagement, you need to learn how to stop micromanaging.
Here are some of the things you can do:
How to Stop Micromanaging Your Team
Go Away… Literally
As mentioned, one of the signs you’re a micromanager is that you’re always around.
If you’re not checking the emails your team copied you in, you’re probably walking around looking over your team’s shoulders.
You have to stop doing that.
One thing you can do to start with is to take a vacation.
When you do, assign someone to look after your team.
In doing this, you’re creating a space between you and your team.
When you come back, maintain that considerable distance from them.
You’ll see how the atmosphere and the progress within your team may have changed – for the better.
Focus On Expectations Not On Instructions
Instead of breaking down instructions to their molecular level, tell your team what it is that you’re expecting from the task instead.
It will be easier for you to review completed tasks if you refer to the expectations that you’ve set as the standard.
While setting expectations, acknowledge that you may get your team to revise their work.
And when they need to revise their work, allow them to do it until they realize what that set of expectations means to you.
Be A Leader, Work Like A Manager
When you are a leader, you’re pushing your team to move forward in order to achieve your goals.
But when you’re not leading, you may be managing.
And when you’re managing, it means that you should be doing tasks that managers should do.
That’s instead of meddling with the tasks that your team members can do.
Let Your Team Set The Management Rules
After all, you can’t be a good leader if you’re not a good follower.
So ask your team on how each of them wants you to manage them.
Gather their input and set your expectations of each other as a team.
If you don’t agree on something, negotiate with them.
Making group decisions that impact management approach is one of the ways on how to avoid micromanaging.
Let Your Team Know And Feel That You Trust Them
In some instances, employees devise their own ways on how to handle a micromanager.
A few of these ways are motivated by the manager’s perceived lack of trust for his team members.
So instead of micromanaging, strive to empower your team.
Guide them if they’re doing something incorrectly.
Provide feedback constructively and appreciate them.
Fail And Move Forward
If you’re working hard to be perfect, don’t expect it to happen to your team overnight.
In your pursuit, you should allow mistakes to be made by your team.
It’s how they learn.
You shouldn’t always be there attempting to save them by taking over their tasks.
If you ought to guide your team towards excellence, you can teach them how to drive; not steer them yourself because that is a sure sign that you’re a micromanager.
Push Them Forward
You should do this when you have an idea of their capabilities.
As you continue to guide some of your other team members to perform better, you can push the limits to what your other team members can do.
Giving some of them additional responsibilities can boost their confidence while giving you an idea of what is possible.
In the process, do not forget to provide them with encouragement and feedback, and to also ask about their thoughts and what they’re learning or have learned from their experience.
Win As A Team
Yes, embracing the team mindset is an effective way of avoiding micromanagement.
No one wants to lose.
However, you can’t cultivate the attitude of striving to win within your team if you choose to step in front of them instead of walking beside them.
That will definitely show that you’re exhibiting the signs of a micromanager.
If you step in front of them, they may feel incapable of meeting the organization’s objectives.
But if you walk beside them, then they’ll see you as their supporter.
This may cause them to be more inspired and to seek for ways to do their tasks better.
This may be a little challenging for a former micromanager to achieve.
However, change does take time.
Begin by sharing some of the things that are important to you.
Proceed by explaining to them why those are important.
Always remind them that they can always approach you for questions.
Also, start a constructive feedback session.
It pays that your team members feel appreciated even if they don’t get any physical rewards for their accomplishments.
In the same way, help them learn from their mistakes and encourage them to do better the next time around.
The willingness to engage openly in communication may take time.
You need to build or rebuild a sense of trust before it can start to happen.
But once your team opens up to you, you can then create a shared vision.
How to handle a micromanager from the employee perspective is challenging.
However, as the manager, it falls in your hands to change your ways.
That’s especially if your micromanaging ways are causing tension within your team.
From the signs and symptoms we pointed out in this article, can you tell if you’re a micromanager or not?
Have these pointers helped you?
Please leave us your comments!
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