Here Is What Micromanagement Looks Like

Almost no one would admit to being a micromanager. They are just “detail-oriented” or focused on getting things “perfect.” While these phrases sound much better than “I like to nit-pick my employees’ work!” your employees see through it. 

Leadership coach and speaker Sarah Noll Wilson tweeted the following:

And she got great responses that give insight into exactly what micromanagers do.

These examples can make you snicker unless you’ve been through it. If you recognize yourself in any of these, here are some ideas to help you step back and stop micromanaging.

Make a set training period.

When you hire someone, set aside a specific time period for training, devote resources and time to training the new employee, and then step back. Let your employee come to you when they have questions.

Do you feel out of control?

I’ve been blessed with very few micromanagers in my career–but I worked with one. She wasn’t my boss, but she reported directly to the chief human resources officer, and nothing got to him without her approval. I had to send him a monthly report, and this is how it went every single month.

It took her longer to write the detailed email about what she wanted me to do than it would have taken her to do herself. It wasn’t about the report–she couldn’t have cared less about the number of pixels in the line on the grid. It was about asserting control. She wanted to remind everyone that no one got to him without her approval, and this was the way to do it. 

If you feel out of control, or that your job is in jeopardy, micromanaging people is not the quick fix. Sit down with your boss (or with yourself) and set goals for the upcoming year. Figure out how you can best use your time. 

If you do this and still feel out of control and stressed about what others do (and they are doing a good job), consider talking with a therapist. Your employee assistance program can help refer you–most companies have one.

Evaluate by results, not time in seat.

Many employers have struggled with people working from home during the pandemic–because they can’t “see if someone is working.” 

You need to look at results, not at whether someone is available on slack. Is the employee getting his work done? Are his clients happy? If so, step back. If the employee isn’t getting his work done, then, by all means, talk about what needs to change. But, figure that out with the results, not facetime. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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