Micromanagement is a huge problem.

According to recent survey, four out of five employees feel that they've definitely been micromanaged, over half say that micromanaging decreases their productivity, and a whopping two thirds feel that micromanagement decreases morale.

Weirdly, though, most micromanagers aren't aware that they doing anything wrong. Another survey found that nine of out 10 managers whose employees bolted due to micromanagement don't realize that they drove those employees away.

The Micromanager Quiz

To help you discover whether you're a micromanager, I created a quiz based upon information provided by Klli Koort, a marketing manager at the employee productivity app builder Weekdone.

Instructions: Keep a running total of the values assigned to your answers. For scoring, compare your total with the three categories. At the end of the post, I provide explanations for each question and suggest a way to improve your management style.

Q1: Of the management roles listed below, which is the most important?

  1. To observe and correct employee efforts. (3)
  2. To coach and encourage average employees. (0)
  3. To control the overall quality of work. (2)
  4. To secure resources and set direction. (0)

Q2: When you're overwhelmed with work, your first tendency is to:

  1. Ruthless prioritize my to do list. (2)
  2. Find a quiet place where I can work without being interrupted. (1)
  3. Move tasks to my underlings. (0)
  4. Hold a meeting to discuss alternatives. (2)

Q3: When you assign a task, how frequently do you typically expect a status update?

  1. Every day, especially if the task is "mission critical." (2)
  2. Our system automatically tracks work assignments. (1)
  3. This depends entirely on the assignment and the employee. (0)
  4. As often as the employee feels it's necessary. (0)

Q4: When you assign a task, how much detail do you typically provide?

  1. Only an objective and a deadline. (0)
  2. Step by step instructions to accomplish the task. (2)
  3. Some suggestions on how to proceed. (1)

Q5: When an employee is struggling, usually your first response is to:

  1. Let the employee fail as a learning experience. (0)
  2. Jump in and try to help as best you can. (1)
  3. Reassign the employee and do the task yourself. (3)
  4. Ask the employee if he or she needs help. (0)

SCORING:

  • 0 to 4: You are not a micromanager. You see managing as a way to make other people more successful. You've learned to trust your teammates, just as they've learned to trust you. Keep up the good work.
  • 5 to 9: You are somewhat of a micromanager. You'd like to be able to "let go" but feel that there's too much risk of failure. Go through the explanations below to see how to fix your tendency to micromanage.
  • 10 to 12: You are a true micromanager. While you have the best of intentions, your behavior is driving your employees crazy. The explanations below provide some suggestions on how to improve your management style, but you should consider whether or not a career in management is for you.

Explanations and Fix-it Advice:

  • Q1: According to Wikipedia, micromanaging is "a management style whereby a manager closely observes or controls the work of subordinates or employees."
    Fix: Rethink your role as a manager so that you visualize it as being a leader of people rather than a controller of behavior.
  • Q2: Micromanagers find it difficult to delegate because they don't trust their employees to do the job right. According to one survey, 48 percent of companies are concerned about their managers' ability and willingness to delegate.
    Fix: Use technology to make delegation easier. (This is one of the most common usages of Weekdone, according to Koort.)
  • Q3: After delegating a full task, it's natural to feel a need to keep checking on the status. However, if the demands for status reports become too frequent, employees feel that their manager doesn't trust them.
    Fix: Add weekly status updates via email into the schedule of your employees. Use the "PPP" method: progress, plans, and problems. Limit the report size to 500 or fewer words.
  • Q4: Micromanagers tend to give exact directions on how to complete a task because they secretly feel that they could do the job better than the employee.
    Fix: When you assign a task, ask the employee how he or she intends to proceed. Unless you're sure the employee's action plan will fail, resist giving detailed instructions.
  • Q5: Micromanagers believe no one could do a better job than they, which is why they find themselves doings the work of others. This may prove successful short term, but over time the workload keeps growing and everyone's performance suffers.
    Fix: Either let go of your need to control people or consider leaving your current job. You might be happier and more productive as an individual contributor.
Published on: Nov 7, 2014
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.