What is Micro-Managing?

What is Micro-Managing?

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No one likes having someone looking over their shoulder, especially at the workplace

One of the biggest challenges for business owners and managers is trusting that your team will deliver their work to the quality expected–this is magnified during COVID, as many employees are working remotely. This can lead to issues when you feel it necessary to “step in” to assist, or worse, take over. This is what is referred to as “micro-managing”. 

Micro-managers think they are ensuring their departments or businesses are running smoothly, when in actuality, they are doing the opposite. Taking a closer look at what micro-managing is and why it poses risks for the department and business will help you become a more effective leader.

Why Micro-Managing is Bad Practice

Strong leaders understand the importance of delegating tasks. Delegation ensures the right person performs specific tasks, takes on projects, and effectively allows managers to manage. However, delegation also shows your team you trust their abilities. When you fail to delegate effectively, you undermine your team, overwhelm your own capacity for effective work, reduce productivity, and cause morale issues. As a result, all you really achieve is reducing your impact as a leader and setting your entire team up to fail.

As the Society for Human Resources Management puts it:

“In many cases, micromanagement happens when supervisors don’t realize precisely what their roles and jobs are. A good manager need only tell employees what they need to deliver, how they should deliver it and when they should deliver it.”

Signs You’re a Micro-Manager

If you aren’t sure what a micro-manager truly is, here are signs you could be micro-managing and tips on how to overcome your urge to interfere:

You Cause Production Stalls

If productivity is lagging, it could be due to your micro-managing. For example, if every decision your employees take requires your approval, you are lacking trust in their abilities. Micro-managing is like helicopter-parenting, except it’s at the office, and it can stall projects and impede progression.

Effective managers recognize when their decisions are needed and when they need to trust their team. The more you butt in, the more you unemplower your team. Make sure your team knows you trust their judgement by making key milestones approval points, and let them manage the rest on their own.

You’re Never Satisfied

Perfection obstructs progress, and perfectionism is a primary characteristic of micro-management. If you insert yourself too often, employees can’t complete their work and will also begin to doubt you trust the skills you hired them to perform in the first place.

If it’s your way or the highway, then your standards are distorted. If you find your team is failing to meet your expectations, step back and look at yourself. Where are you steering them wrong? How can you help them improve so they can do their jobs independently and succeed?

Everything Requires a Meeting

Unnecessary meetings suck the energy and life out of employees. If you are scheduling meetings to discuss every process and deliverable, you are micro-managing. When employers or managers can’t pause and let things unfold, once again it presents trust issues, slows progress, and impacts morale. Be selective with meetings and make sure they are purposeful before scheduling them and taking your employees away from their work. 

You Constantly Offer Input

Providing feedback to your staff is obviously important, but there’s a fine line between a productive one-on-one meeting and placing an employee under the microscope. Remember that everyone’s learning style and approach are different, and tuning into that demonstrates trust and empathy. Allowing people to work in their own way, while providing guidance when needed is the best way to avoid micro-managing.

Recognizing the signs and resisting your temptation to micro-manage will make you a stronger leader and allow your team and business to realize its full potential.

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