Micromanagement is a common administration flaw in many businesses.
It tends to squelch innovation and creativity, gives rise to poor performance and leads to little or no growth.
It discourages the development of your staff and teaches them to become unnecessarily risk averse, you basically end up with a bunch of fraidy cats!
If you micro-manage often enough or long enough, you will kill your business.
If you find yourself (like many conventional business leaders) telling yourself, “I gotta take care of this issue, this problem, or this person. I gotta do this and I gotta do that,” you are probably micromanaging your staff.
This isn’t your job as a leader. When you micromanage, you are asking for problems!
No one likes a boss who constantly keeps a tight rein on everything; it eventually drives away the best employees. The impact of micromanaging is harmful right up and down the line, not just to individuals but to the corporate culture.
That awkward moment when you are micromanaging and you don’t even know it
However, many tough-minded old-style leaders sneer at this notion because they believe that it is their job as leaders to direct and control their workforce.
In fact, most micromanagers don’t think of themselves as micromanagers. Rather, they usually believe they are practicing good management. They assume that a successful leader must be seen to be firm and uncompromising, and must keep a tight rein on everything.
The best leaders on the other hand know that absolute control is an anti-conscious state of existence. They realize that their role as leaders is more about influencing an outcome than controlling a process or a person.
They know soccer managers should never get on the pitch to score goals; that’s the players’ job!
Self-diagnosis for micromanagement
Just like many other bad habits, the first step to breaking the micromanagement habit is to recognize and accept the signs. You know you are micromanaging when you:
- See leadership as taking charge of your organization
- Believe you need to have all the answers
- Look at the detail instead of the big picture
- Second-guess employees on a daily basis
- Think it’s your job to tell others what to do
- Constantly stand over staff’s shoulders, directing their work
- Require a sign-off on every task, no matter how minor
- Expect your staff to do what you want them to do when you want them to do it
- Tell people how to conduct themselves
How can you move past micromanagement?
Your job is to hire the right people for the job, who are competent and skilful —and then to allow them to do what they are good at without your interference. It’s important to give your people room to think for themselves.
You must let go of wanting everything done your way. If you always control the what, how and when of every task, you will end up with lackluster, unhappy and bitter employees.
The next step is holding your team accountable. Rather than micromanaging everything, give them targets that are realistic, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive.
Perfectly balancing empowerment and accountability is not easy, but business leaders who set the right tone will enjoy greater employee creativity, originality and innovation.
Chutisa and Steven Bowman are internationally renowned advisors on strategy, risk, leadership, governance and creating a culture of strategic awareness at Board and senior executive levels. Together, they have authored Leading from the Edge of Possibilities and No More Business As Usual.