Perils of Micromanagement

November 2009

Over the years, I’ve observed hundreds of professionals in the context of their work.  One of the things that I’ve noticed is that the most successful and fulfilled clients are those who have dodged the enervating bullet known as micromanagement.  Yet most of us, somewhere along the way, have encountered at least one boss who insists on managing at a level that reminds you of your second-grade teacher.  And, perhaps even more disconcerting, some of us have awakened to the realization that we ourselves exhibit certain tell-tale signs of being a micromanager.

Some clues that you might be a micromanager are spending inordinate amounts of time telling others how to do something; writing lists of detailed action items for every task you assign your team; insisting on being copied on all emails and correspondence; attending meetings that your direct reports can handle on their own; making all decisions yourself (or requiring others to get your approval before they make a decision); and lying awake nights worrying about how your team might be messing up a project.  These actions may be accompanied by growing distrust of your co-workers, and an expanding ego on your part.  You may also notice that you are exhausted from having to do it all, yet can’t figure out how to loosen your stranglehold on the myriad details that you feel you must be immersed in.

I don’t have to describe in gory detail the impact that micromanagers can have on others, and on the work environment as a whole.  Suffice it to say that creativity will be stifled, leadership discouraged, risk-taking squashed, and resentment will build.  Employees will operate at much less than their capacity as they lose motivation to contribute their own ideas and energy.  Confidence will erode.

If any of these signs resonate with you (and being a micromanager is not what you aspire to as a professional), perhaps opening up to the possibility that life could be different if you let some things go would be a good place to begin.  Most managers that I know want to help their employees grow; they just sometimes go about it the wrong way.  What are ways to better use your time?  How can you convey what you want and then leave the how to others?  What is the best use of your talents and expertise to move your company forward?  How can work be more fulfilling (and even fun), with less effort?  If I can support you as you explore these questions, please ask.  Have a wonderful month!

Sharon
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