Tools and Tips for Kicking the Micromanagement Habit

Why Micromanaging Your Employees is a Big Problem

Pretty much everyone hates being micromanaged. It’s a surefire way to frustrate those you subject to it, and too much of it could have severe repercussions in the form of low morale and high turnover costs.

The tendency to micromanage is not limited to a particular personality style. People with each style have their own reasons for being tempted to micromanage. Direct style people are prone to micromanaging out of a desire to have things done exactly their way. Spirited managers may micromanage when they’ve let go of a project, then want to grab it back when it’s not coming together the way they envisioned it. Considerates may micromanage out of a desire to be helpful, and Systematics may micromanage because they feel compelled to oversee every detail of the project. To overcome these tendencies, follow these tips.

When discussing a project with someone, begin with a question, even something as simple as, “How’s it going?” Then stop talking and listen!

A key to minimize micromanaging is to let the other person talk first.

Even if you think the solution is obvious, allow the other person to share his suggestions for how to handle it. If you believe the employee’s idea is deficient in some way, encourage the employee to continue thinking through the issue without providing your direct input.

This may be difficult for Directs, who are in a hurry and believe they know the answer. However, it will pay off in the long run because the employee will develop skill and confidence that will make him a more valuable employee.

Your words may be misinterpreted as micromanaging when that isn’t your intention. Try saying, “Here’s a suggestion...” or “You could consider...” and end with, “but you handle it as you see fit.”

On the flip side, if you find yourself being micromanaged, try these strategies to minimize interference:

If your boss is micromanaging, say something like, “I appreciate how much you care about this project. Why don’t we set up a review schedule so you can feel comfortable handing this project off to me.” And don’t hesitate to send your boss details and updates—you can’t over-communicate with a micromanager boss.

At the heart of most micromanaging is a need for control and a fear that others will let them down. Be supportive and reassure the other person that you want the same thing as they do. Demonstrate consistency in your work and make a point of under-promising and over-delivering.

Whether you’re the instigator or the recipient, eliminating micromanaging from your workplace will make everyone happier.

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