Concerned about time management, your personal productivity and yet, you have the need to be invited to every meeting, consulted for every topic and have the last say about a simple internal email to ensure it is done right? Well, there is a big chance you are a micromanager!
What is a micromanager?
If you are a manager, with the urging need to be completely informed of every single aspect of the business strategy, day to day operations and decision making, and without noticing you get offended when you are left out of a loop or find the hours of your day passing by while you spend valuable time correcting your team’s emails and presentations? If this is the case, you are what is called a micromanager.
Your attention to detail tends to be sharper than others and that creates the need to virtually ensure everyone makes at least an effort to pay more attention not to be corrected every time on similar things. With the amount of times you raise the same concerns and ask for the same corrections, it feels you are dealing with children, since everyone around you are poorly trained or plain incompetent, or should know better. If people around you would know what they are doing, that would eliminate the need to be constantly babysitting. Right?
Reality is that this intensity leaves you with very little time to do your actual role: leading a team.
Micromanagers and business culture
I had a couple of micromanagers as a team member and let me tell you: it is no fun! My self confidence skills are constantly at play as I start second doubting every move I make. Things I could do autonomously, slowly I felt more confident to triple check something with them.
The problem with this micromanaging approach in a leadership position is what it creates as a domino effect, every time those triple checks of everyone’s movements take place.
Let’s review some examples:
Email review - If you, as a manager, correct even commas on an internal email, what will happen next time that team member writes an email? They will come to you for constant feedback as they become anxious to be corrected again by their boss. Consequently, they get less done during the day if this is repeated constantly;
Chairing all meetings - If you chair all meetings, what happens when you are on vacation or are called to a client site? Meetings get canceled? Work gets paused? If the chairing of a meeting is delegated and coached, chances are, next time you are away, your team will manage not to stop just because you are away. But if you don’t delegate this responsibility, business virtually stops when you stop;
Always representing the department / area - If, for every meeting that your team should be part of, you are the one going in representation of the department, the day should be 36 hours instead to enable you to do work and you will be inundated with back to back meetings! Besides the side effects mentioned in point 2, you still have the effects of your team never being in the loop so making you waste your time explaining things over and over;
Attention! As a manager you need to understand that your actions result in behaviors that may or not be autonomous in the long term. If everything needs to go via you before getting done, to ensure it is done right, a team member will never learn how to do things alone as they will know you will always double check everything.
Micromanaging and the customer experience
Ultimately, consider how your actions as a micromanager may affect the customer experience:
If the meetings get canceled due to the fact you are away, who will ultimately wait? - The customer;
If you review an email before it is sent out, with the amount of emails that need to be done a day, who waits? The customer….
Without noticing you are creating process obstructions by constantly blocking an outcome.
Productivity - how to get back on the horse
If you have your productivity levels needing a boost and getting more hours in a day would be ideal, with some simple changes, you might get all of that. And more, your team will also create a better customer experience with less interruptions.
Here are some thoughts on how to stop being a micromanager and raise your game to a leader people want to follow:
Sort what your department REALLY needs to be involved in and what you could delegate to another department. How often your department is dealing with things that would benefit the customer experience if done by another department?
For workloads that should be dealt by your department, what really needs to be you or what could be delegated? Your team members must have different skill sets, so ensure to delegate what would work best for each individual. That what less errors will occur and confidence levels will rise;
How to constantly be in the loop? Create a process to enable communication. At the end of each delegated task, create a way for your team to communicate to ensure you are still in the loop.
You don’t need to delegate the responsibility just yet, since ultimately, you are the responsible manager. Start delegating small things to get the hang of it. After all, delegation is a skill! The more you manage to delegate, the less the customer stops and the more time you have to do your actual leadership role!
I am no psychologist but I do business transformation for a living to know that micromanaging affects time to customer (by creating process obstructions), quality (due to the lack of trust people have in their ability to perform without a quality checker) and cost (as a process becomes expensive if resources heavily involve management for an outcome). Moreover, a business culture becomes compromised with the constant lack of trust in one’s ability to do their job.
Disclaimer: Apologies if some interpretations may offend a reader. I do rely on literal translation at times since English is a second language. My intention with this article is to spread awareness. I welcome your feedback to ensure I will not be constantly making the same errors in translation.
I also write about my own life ,professional experience and learning curve. I am a continuous improvement learner so I welcome you to share extra information and spread awareness with me if you have other ways of analyzing the same issues or you have value-added information to the readers of this article. Thank you for reading.