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Are You A Micromanager?

Are You A Micromanager?

Micromanagement is very costly for the company, writes Dr. Corrie Block, a regional business development consultant based in Dubai.


Micromanagement is when someone higher on the corporate structure exercises excessive control over the work that should be done by someone lower on the corporate structure. This multiplies human resource costs, creates inefficiencies in communication, creates confusion in the corporate structure, and is generally irritating to the company on both the people side and the financial bottom line.

Too much control or attention to detail by upper management robs employees of the experience of doing the work, the satisfaction of doing it well and the experience of learning from doing it poorly. It also robs the company of the attention of the manager who should be concentrating on higher-level strategy.

Sadly, micromanagement is a common illness among managers, but fear not, it is rarely fatal and there is treatment readily available. But how will you know if it’s you?

Here are some signs you might be micromanaging, and a few recommended treatments for it.

1. Your employees are telling you to let them do their jobs

This is feedback. It means that your team is aware of what needs to be done, they feel capable of doing it, and you are probably getting in their way. If this is you, set out clear goals for your employees to reach, and make sure they have the resources needed to reach them. Then, stand back and let them do it. Provide feedback regarding what went well or poorly when the job is done.

2. You are frustrated that you have to do the work your employees should be doing

This is a tell-tale sign. You are definitely micromanaging, and for one of two reasons: you either hired the wrong person to do the job, or you hired the right person but don’t trust them to do the job. If you hired the wrong person, either upgrade them with training or replace them with someone qualified, it’ll be cheaper in the long run and less frustrating for you. If you hired the right person but you are having trouble trusting them, ask for regular reporting so that you can monitor their progress. Ask clarifying questions about their strategy or ideas. Regular information can help you build trust.

3. You often feel that if you don’t do it yourself, it won’t be done ‘right’

You might have more experience or education than your employees, but that doesn’t mean that your employees can’t do a good job. There is very rarely a ‘right’ way and a ‘wrong’ way to meet a goal. Offer your methods as suggestions for meeting clearly defined goals, and then let your employees get to work. If the goals are met, then perhaps you can learn new methods by evaluating their successes. If they are not met, you can correct them on ignoring your methodology, or provide training to meet capacity gaps. In any case, you shouldn’t be doing your employees’ jobs, that’s what they’re hired for.

4. You spread the job among too many employees, and make yourself the hub of decision making

This is a sneaky one. As a manager, you can convince yourself that you are actually supposed to be doing the work that should be the domain of lower levels of employees, by spreading the responsibilities around so that no one but you can make a decision. If that’s you, isolate the position in the company that should be managing the issue, and delegate the authority to decide. The only reason no one else is doing the job is because you won’t let them. You are in your own way here, and it’s time to delegate.

Empowerment is the antibiotic cure for most micromanagement issues

Empowerment is where responsibility = resources, and authority = accountability. That is, a person has clearly communicated responsibilities with available resources, and the authority to make decisions with knowledge that they will be held accountable for the outcomes of those decisions. Performance feedback comes in the form of rewards and discipline, depending on how they did.

As a rule of thumb, if someone else on your team can and should be doing it, then let them do it. Ask for updates, and give feedback, but don’t dominate the process or the outcome. Micromanagement is very costly for the company, and your attention is needed on higher level projects.

No company should be paying an executive salary to anyone for doing a job that lower level employees can do. If your executives are caught up in micromanagement, you’re burning money, bottom line.


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