79% of employees have been micromanaged at least once in their careers. Have you ever thought about what damage being a micromanager is doing inside your small business?
Please tell me that you haven’t, or aren’t currently, contributing to that debilitating statistic. Because if you are, you’re no longer going to be considered to join my bowling team. I don’t bowl, and I don’t have a bowling team, but if I ever do, there is no room for this management style on it.
Back to the point of this article: for those of you business owners/operators that are wearing more than one hat in your business, you’re probably acting as owners and managers at the same time. And, if you feel that you have to micromanage your employees, then help is below.
Today I’m sharing my five tips to avoid becoming a micromanager in your business, regardless of what industry you’re in or how frustrated you are with your current employees.
This means, after reading this article you will be the perfect manager that never makes a mistake and your employees will get your face tattooed on their bicep because they love you so much.*
*BOSSES: Your results may vary.
SYMPTOMS AND TRAITS OF A MICROMANAGER
Even though your employees may have already labeled you a micromanager when they talk behind your back to coworkers or complain about you to their significant others when they get home, let’s at least look at the symptoms of a micromanager before we officially diagnose you here today.
Who knows, maybe you’re doing an outstanding job as a team leader and your employees just don’t like being held accountable for what their position agreement spells out that they will be responsible for. You do have a written position agreement for every employee on your org chart, don’t you?
If this is the case and the only thing your employees can come up with to complain about with regard to you, is to label you a micromanager, then you need more creative employees and this article isn’t going to help that.
On the other hand, if there is some evidence that you are micromanaging your people, let’s examine the symptoms that you might be bringing to work with you before I give you some advice made famous by Bob Newhart.
Here are some common micromanager behavioral symptoms in no particular order:
CONTROL-OBSESSED BUSINESS OWNERS
One of the most frequent traits I see in business owners who are micromanagers is being obsessed with control.
On the surface, you might think that this is a good thing.
After all, micromanagers are often trying to do what they think is best for the company. You’re the one at the top of the org chart, so if you’re not obsessed with controlling what your business does and how it does it, no one else is going to.
In reality, a boss who is control-obsessed with his/her team members is really a boss who isn’t trusting any individual to do the job they were hired to do.
Furthermore, every minute you are being a control monster is another minute that you aren’t working on the highest level of strategic planning and implementation activities that your mission and vision are requiring of you.
When you’re busy control the minutia, there is no one else to do the high-level strategic planning, KPI setting, employee performance meetings, managing limited resources, etc.
You have plenty to do at the top of your organization, so free yourself up to do that work by not being control-obsessed.
TRAITS OF A MICROMANAGER: AVOIDS DELEGATION
Avoiding delegating tasks down to team members is behavior closely related to being control-obsessed.
One of the biggest reasons why a manager doesn’t delegate is a lack of trust that the work will get done at the standard that it needs.
There is also the notion among many business owners/operators that if something needs to be done right, then I’ll have to do it myself. Therefore, nothing of importance gets delegated down to your employees and you end up just adding more to your plate.
You’ve taken some work away from your employees, put it on your own plate, and have continued to pay those employees the same amount as if they were handling the tasks and projects that you hired them to handle in the first place.
You can imagine what this is doing to your stress levels.
DISCOURAGES INDEPENDENT DECISION MAKING
If your voice is the only voice inside of your business, then you run the risk of operating inside of an echo chamber. All of the talent, diversity, experience, and wisdom that you’ve hired over the years is being silenced.
It may be your company, but your capacity is only going to get you so far.
Your workplace culture is going to be a reflection of your leadership style. And, if that style takes on an attitude of success through others instead of discouraging your employees you’re going to see some amazing times ahead.
SUFFERS FROM REPORT-O-MANIA
Micromanagement behavior has its more obvious signs. These next two behaviors from bosses are not so obvious to spot.
The micromanager is the person who can’t let go. They are constantly asking for status reports, and they want to know every little detail about what their employees are doing.
A report-o-mania management style is a form of micromanagement that has its subtle signs: no the manager isn’t physically peering over the shoulder of employees constantly, but the constant requirement for progress reports is a version of micromanagement.
Inevitably, this behavior can lead to a state where employees are constantly feeling undervalued and disrespected. These micromanagement behaviors are just as toxic to your company culture.
Instead, hire talented people, give them what they need to do their job, and get out of their way.
The reason this trait is so subtle and hard to diagnose is that there is a fine line between managers looking for information from their team and being overly needy.
Like the trait above, this one is tough to put on the list of sure-fire micromanagement examples.
Why? Because a boss who is detail-oriented isn’t micromanaging. It’s just a good trait to have as an employer or coworker.
Unfortunately, any good trait can be taken too far when the line between healthy and unhealthy is crossed.
Micromanagement becomes problematic here when no employee can complete a task well enough for the boss. Think perfectionism here. Which is a quick way to put the breaks on growth in your organization.
If this trait is paired with the need for constant updates and progress reports-which we highlighted in our micromanager symptom list above, work activities will suffer.
But it’s important to note that micromanagement is a spectrum disorder, meaning there are varying degrees of micromanagement.
DISADVANTAGES OF BEING THAT MICROMANAGER
So you can see some or all of those traits in your work self.
It’s not the end of the world. Especially if you want to turn the page and work on being a better boss.
If, however, you’re not yet convinced that change is needed, even though you’re aware that organizations with micromanagers tend to have a company culture that suffers, then it’s time that I convince you by covering some of the disadvantages.
WASTE OF TIME
They say that time is money, and that may not be more true in a small business. So, micromanagement will likely result in wasted time.
Every minute that you spend hovering over your people is another minute that performance is suffering.
When you’re micromanaging other things on your list aren’t getting done. The same is true for your people. If they’re busy assembling progress reports all the time to feed your appetite for control, then they aren’t being fully productive either.
YOUR STRESS SOARS
I have yet to meet a happy business owner that micromanages.
Your stress soars because you don’t feel in control, which leads to an environment where your people are more stressed.
Stressed employees start looking for better opportunities elsewhere.
And, at the end of the day, your soaring stress is either going to cause you to hate your business, or worse, deliver serious health problems. Am I a doctor? Nope. Just going off my experience.
POSITIVE ENERGY PLUMMETS
Just typing out this content post about micromanagers is starting to drain my energy. And I’m just trying to help.
Businesses lead by micromanagers have the worst energy about them. Things just don’t feel right.
That’s what we call culture, and your people can feel the bad energy too.
Have you ever heard the saying, “People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers”? Well, in this case, that’s you that they’re leaving.
LOWER CREATIVITY AND EFFICIENCY
So far, according to the list here, you’re wasting resources, anxiety is soaring throughout, and work energy is low.
Are you seeing the impact micromanagers can have on otherwise healthy businesses?
We haven’t yet mentioned the lower creativity and efficiency your members have while at work. But, it’s true. Tasks are now just items to check off of a list for your employees and not projects that they want to take pride in and do their best work on.
How could they?
YOU NEVER GET AWAY
Here’s a word that some of you business owners or managers have forgotten even exists: vacation.
You’re so busy micromanaging that you can’t help yourself and get away with you and your family for a little time to recharge the batteries.
Who can even think of a vacation if you distrust your people to handle things when you’re gone. If this you, then we need to talk about how you go about building systems inside your company, and soon.
Systems should equal freedom for you. The systems that we help you to build, are predictable and repeatable and work whether or not you go into work that day or chill at the beach.
Doesn’t a hands-off business that still works without sound amazing right about now?
THE MISSION AND VISION IS NEVER REALIZED
This might be the more depressing disadvantage of being a business owner and a micromanager.
The thought of your business not reaching its fullest potential because you were knowingly or otherwise holding it back can’t sit well with you either.
When you’re spending your precious limited resources, like time and money, on anything but strategy, innovation, employee development, or customer experience, the business is just not going to get to the next level.
PROFITS (AND YOUR EMPIRE) ARE NEVER AS BIG AS THEY COULD BE
If your mission and vision aren’t being realized because you’re unnecessarily baby-sitting otherwise productive and capable adults, then your profits, and ultimately your company empire, are never going to be as big as they could have been.
Your job is to be the leader that your organization and its people need you to be. Don’t get stuck down in the weeds micromanaging because you haven’t been taught to properly delegate or build accountability systems that will take the place of you having to.
It should be brutally obvious by now how micromanaging can impact your organization. All the way from the employee level of completing tasks, to the highest strategic objectives of the company not being realized.
I hope this content has helped to hold up a mirror for some of you that needed to see your reflection and how your actions are limiting your growth and the growth of your talented employees.
If you’ve been a micromanager for any period of time, then it may be time to consider why your organization is struggling.
It might not have anything to do with the economy or industry trends – and everything to do with how you manage your people. When employees are micromanaged, they don’t feel trusted by their manager – and that’s an issue in today’s world where trust is paramount.
This will only lead to frustration and limited growth for both of you.
If this sounds like a problem that’s plaguing your team right now, don’t worry- we have plenty of experience with helping businesses overcome these obstacles.