Are You a Micromanager?
There are two observations I have made about management styles. No one likes to be micromanaged, and supervisors who micromanage almost never know (or admit) that they do. They will very often explain their own behavior in terms such as "I am just a perfectionist," "I prefer doing it myself," "I want it done right," or they complain about the work ethics of today's employees.
It makes perfect sense to them to give detailed instructions, and then follow up every step of the way, managing details of the task and even dictating which one of several viable options must be pursued. They have no sense of the stress their style causes or the demoralizing effect it has on their subordinates.
So how can you tell if you are a micromanager? Well, if you routinely control every detail, or your staff says you do (although we both know they are mistaken, right?). Sorry to say, you are a micromanager if:
- You tend to specify exactly how something must be done.
- You reserve and exercise approval rights even for routine tasks.
- Delays occur because others must await your feedback or approval before they can proceed.
- You change deadlines or ask for feedback before the agreed on date.
- You hover.
- You give unsolicited feedback often.
- You are convinced if you take a day off the lab will go to hell in a handbasket.
If you are a micromanager, there are some steps you can take to stop being one:
- First you must admit you have a tendency to micromanage (but concentrate on your behavioral patterns, not your individual self worth or motivation).
- Deliberately choose to give up some control. This will be uncomfortable at first, and you might have to do it a step at a time. Give someone a project that is not critical or does not have to be completed in 24 hours. Allow for a variety of options, not just your preferred way.
- Set mutually agreeable, realistic deadlines for progress reports and stick to them. Promise to be available for support and clarification, but do not keep butting in. If things are not proceeding as expected or on schedule, renegotiate a timeline.
- Ask a respected colleague to prod you when you slip back into micromanaging, and be prepared to back off.
- Address performance issues in more constructive and traditional ways like retraining, counseling and reassignment, rather than being dictatorial.
- Take a brief time off and don't call in. It is important to prove to yourself life goes on even without you.
Remember: micromanagement is a habit like any other, and can be changed.