Are you a secret micromanager? These four steps will help you assess your management style and curb those micromanaging tendencies before you drive top talent straight to the competition.

Can’t let go? No one likes a micromanager. Yes, micromanagers may get the job done, but their obsessive need to manage every single task can cause project delays, undermine employee autonomy, create an environment that decreases team member output, and ultimately drive top talent towards the competition.

While it’s easy to spot micromanaging tendencies in a supervisor or coworker, it can be much more difficult to identify these same tendencies in ourselves. Why? It’s easy to confuse our micromanaging tendencies with an over-zealous commitment to quality control or to just blame a stubborn perfectionism streak. Your employees, however, may not see it that way. When you micromanage heavily, you suffocate creativity, kill motivation, and constrain your ability to scale and grow your business.

Worse, you risk negatively branding your organization. Today’s top Millennial talent thrives off autonomy and the ability to be creative within a structured framework. Yes, as a supervisor, you’ve earned the right to provide guidance based on your experience. But when you micromanage, you lead from a place of ego, not expertise.

“My Way or the Highway”: How to Spot a Micromanager

I know first-hand just how alienating a micromanager can be to a talented team. Before joining Lucas Group, I oversaw multiple divisions at a leading human resource consulting firm. I was so wrapped up in our firm’s big picture growth that I failed to provide sufficient guidance to one of our mid-level managers. He turned out to be a classic micromanager: throttling creativity at ever step and insisting employees followed his way or the highway. It wasn’t until two of our most talented team members left that I realized we had to make a change. This experience taught me that micromanaging is more than just a “workplace annoyance”. It’s a growth killer.

Micromanagers want things done their way. They focus on the process, not the outcome. Successful managers do the opposite: they drive performance with the end result in mind. They create a strong framework for organizational success and empower team members with beneficial guidance. They own the outcome, not the process.

Are You a Micromanager? 4 Steps to Identify and Correcting Micromanaging Tendencies

A manager’s job is to empower, not dictate. Here’s how to curb your enthusiasm and master the art of delegation:

1. Take a step back.
How are you managing your team? If the tables were turned, would you be satisfied working under a similar management structure? If you are more involved in your team’s life than you would want someone to be, it’s time to take a step back.

2. Seek candid feedback from your team and peers.
Foster an open environment for a collaborative and critical discourse. Be willing to receive feedback, not just provide it. Most importantly, listen to this feedback and adjust your leadership style accordingly.

3. Re-order priorities.
In-box overflowing each day? You don’t need to be cc’d on every email. Spend time on things that are impactful rather than transactional. If you can’t let go of smaller tasks, you will never be able to scale. When delegating tasks, assign a “what” not a “how”.

4. Build trust through awareness, accountability and autonomy.
Start by building awareness around project deliverable expectations or performance results. Make sure your individual contributors are fully committed and understand these expectations.

Next, put checks and balances in place to automate processes for enhanced accountability. Spot-check the progress of your team members and prompt corrective action when they aren’t following through on commitments. This allows your team to work from a place of autonomy and frees you up to focus on the big picture– elevating performance and productivity across board. Set your team up for success, not failure.

Just as no one wants to work for a micromanager, no one wants to be a micromanager boss, either. By taking a step back and honestly assessing your management style, you can empower success for everyone on your team, including you.


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