Ask anyone and they'll tell you that nobody likes a micromanager. Yes, micromanaging may get the job done, but it negatively impacts a team and wears out the manager.

The problem is that not everyone is self-aware enough to realize when they are micromanaging. In Harvard Business Review, Muriel Maignan Wilkins, a co-founder of executive coaching and leadership development firm Isis Associates, shares a few signs that reveal that you are a micromanager:

  • You find yourself dissatisfied with deliverables.
  • You feel frustrated because you would have completed a task differently.
  • You focus on the details and pride yourself on making corrections.
  • You always want to know where your employees/co-workers are and what they're doing.
  • You need to be constantly updated on progress.
  • You ask to be cc'ed on all emails.

Sound familiar? In small doses, the above list can be entirely normal, but if you're nodding your head at every bullet, acknowledging that this is the norm for you, you may need to come to terms with the fact that you are a micromanager. Don't worry, though, Wilkins has some advice on how to deal with these tendencies.

  • Take a step back and evaluate why you are doing something. Are you worried about a deadline? Do you not trust your team members? Take a deep breath and get to the bottom of these issues. Then find all the reasons why you shouldn't micromanage and why you don't have to worry when you share the reins.
  • Stop worrying about the micro. Try to forget about the minutiae, figure out your real priorities, spend your time and energy on the big-ticket items, and delegate some of the other tasks to your team members.
  • Assign a "what," not a "how." It is fair to ask for a specific deliverable from a team member, but you should aim not to dictate how they must get to that deliverable. Explain how you envision the outcome but spare the team member the nitty-gritty and let them figure out how to obtain the outcome you're seeking.
  • Be more optimistic. Oftentimes we micromanage when we're scared of failure. If you set yourself up for success and expect a win, you'll build a stronger team.

Once you admit that you may be micromanaging your team, you can evolve into a more effective and better-liked manager.

"Just as no one wants to be micromanaged, no one wants to be the much-abhorred micromanager," Wilkins writes. "But with a commitment to focus on the big picture and on motivating your employees, you can redirect your efforts to be the most effective manager you can be."

Published on: Nov 12, 2014