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5 Signs you may be a costly Micromanager

Are you a micromanager? Or—perhaps worse—you may be one and not realize it?

Here are 5 signs you might be too involved in your employees’ work:
– You rarely delegate (and when you do, you are entirely too nervous about it)
– You find yourself spending more time overseeing (or even doing) other people’s projects than on getting your own done
– You nitpick the details (like putting the cover sheets on the TPS reports) and neglect the 30,000-foot view
– You reassign projects—to yourself—before they’re done
– You discourage autonomy and decision-making at any level under yours


If one or all of these characteristics are part of your work life, you’re a micromanager, potentially to the extent of being a bad boss—and you’re hurting yourself, your employees, and your company.
The cost of micromanagement can be great. You might think that your “guidance” is perfectly necessary for getting projects completed, but in reality, you’re creating some bad scenarios. For one thing, you become a bottleneck—if nothing can move forward without your personal imprint on the minor details, projects will pile up behind you and efficiency will be lost. Plus, it means that you, at a higher pay scale than your direct reports, are likely spending too much time on lower-level tasks, which is not economical for your company.

From a hiring standpoint, odds are that you’re creating a revolving door of dissatisfied employees: people who don’t feel trusted to do their jobs often become unmotivated and disengaged—and therefore less productive. Plus, they often quit, to be replaced by someone who will likely follow the same pattern.

Furthermore, by being too heavily involved in the minutiae and creating a cycle of mistrust, you’re limiting your employees’ professional development. When people feel micromanaged, they don’t feel free to be creative and innovative, and good ideas and forward thinking become limited. This means that you’re stifling what could potentially skyrocket your team’s achievements, which, in turn, could impact the success of your own work or that of your entire company.

Luckily, awareness is the first step. If you recognize yourself or some of your habits in this, there’s still time to change your ways. To begin, start working on trust. You will find that you get what you expect out of your employees. If you expect poor performance and low participation, that’s what you’ll get. But if you expect quality work and high engagement, that’s what you’ll start to get. And that begins with trusting that employees will follow through—which could start small. Talk with your employees about easy, attainable goals. Once they show you that they will hit them, make the milestones more challenging. And be sure that you’re letting the employee do the task—you can guide, but don’t take over.

Also, and this is the hard part, let your employees make mistakes. One of the best ways for people to learn is to fail. If you’re working so hard at protecting them from failure, you’re ultimately hurting your staff because they won’t have much room to grow beyond what they can already do. A mistake gives all of you space for good discussion, key takeaways, and growth.

Once you see that your employees will rise to a higher bar, you’ll get better and better work out of them. And the best part is that you’ll probably find you have more time to complete your own projects—and to leave the office earlier. What will you do with the freedom?

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