Being a manager can be tough. You are in charge of a group of people and have to ensure that this team pulls together to complete tasks to a high standard and with a high productivity level. You might find it a particularly difficult task if you have been promoted to a managerial position, whereas previously, you worked with your team as equal colleagues. As such, it can be all too easy to fall into less effective styles of management, such as the unanimously disliked micromanagement. Here is a guide to recognizing if you have micromanagement tendencies and what you can do to improve your managerial style and earn your employees’ respect.
What is a micromanager?
Simply put, micromanagement is a managerial style that involves the manager closely observing and controlling the work of their subordinates. This can have a hugely negative effect on employees, leading to a lack of confidence in their own abilities and a sense of dissatisfaction. Employees might even feel that they are being bullied by the micromanager, and the situation could have a serious impact on their mental health, leading to burnout and work-related stress. Furthermore, micromanagement has been proven to be an ineffectual managerial style as it ultimately reduces productivity and satisfaction amongst employees.
Why do people micromanage?
So, if micromanagement is such a poor management style, why do such a large number of managers fall into its trap? There are several interesting reasons why a person might become a micromanager. For instance, you might have been promoted into a managerial position after having demonstrated competence and been a high-performer in a non-supervisory role. While you no doubt welcome the increase in your pay packet, you may be intimidated by the amount of pressure your new managerial responsibilities have placed on you and worry that any mistakes or poor performances from your team be perceived as a negative reflection on your management; as such, you may be reluctant to relinquish control of tasks in an effort to ensure that everything is done according to your own standards.
Signs of micromanagement
There are several signs of micromanagement for you to watch out for in your own managerial style. Finding it difficult to delegate tasks, for instance, is a classic symptom of micromanaging: you want to ensure that all work gets completed to your standards and have difficulty in trusting your team to do so. However, as well as generating staff dissatisfaction, this will result in your own workload becoming so overburdened that you fail to complete the tasks that are part of your job description.
Another sign of micromanagement is the need to be cc’d into every email exchange at all times. This is due to a fear of being left out of the loop and having decisions and discussions going ahead that are beyond your control. However, this will make staff feel that you do not trust them and feel that they are too incompetent to do their jobs correctly.
If you have identified micromanagement tendencies in yourself, what can you do to fix that? Here are some ways you can improve your managerial style.
If the root cause of your micromanagement is that you feel insecure in your new managerial position, you might find it enormously beneficial to return to school for further study. You might want to take a university degree programme in a relevant area, such as business administration. Alternatively, you could enrol on a certificate programme teaching specific professional skills like effective communication and leadership. If you are concerned about committing yourself to attending classes while working full time, be reassured that it is now increasingly easier to fit study around your job. Enrol on an online MBA for the peace of mind that you are not obliged to attend weekly lectures and seminars at a higher education institute; instead, you have the flexibility to study whenever and wherever you want, allowing you to comfortably fit your study around your day job and other life commitments.
Learn how to delegate
As one of the main stumbling blocks for micromanagers, one of the most important things you can do to improve your managerial style is to learn how to delegate tasks effectively. Whereas previously, you may have constantly monitored your staff while they were completing tasks, try instead to take a step back and trust in their abilities which will also free up your own time to complete your own tasks. Consider each person’s own unique skillset and match them up to a task that would be a great fit for them and that is a part of their job description. For instance, if one member of your team is eagle-eyed and has a particularly good attention to detail, you could task them with proofreading reports and marketing materials to catch any typos and other mistakes before they are distributed. If you feel the old temptation to step in a check-up on your staff, remind yourself that they are competent professionals and there is a reason why they have been hired.
Develop assertive communication skills
Many micromanagers are poor communicators, relying on either overt aggression or sly passive-aggressive tactics to get their messages across. Instead, work on building up your assertive communication toolbox. Assertiveness operates on the basis of balance: both parties of the conversation are treated as equals and with respect. You calmly and clearly express your needs while also taking into account the needs of the other person. Assertiveness is a much more effective managerial communication style as your team will feel that they are being listened to and valued. They will receive clear instructions of what is expected of them before being trusted to complete the task unsupervised. Assertiveness also provides an effective framework with which to resolve workplace conflicts in a calm and controlled manner. There are assertiveness training programmes and other resources available if you would like to develop your skills in this valuable communication style.