Say Goodbye to Micro Management

micro management

Many of us are compulsive about our work and the quality of the work. We find it difficult not to over deliver and know when our perfectionism is in overdrive. Mix in a group of people you manage and it’s a recipe for potential disaster, or at least a recipe for micro managing.

Can you calm this inner demon and still produce high quality results? Is it possible to set the goals with your team and let them determine the path to get there without you providing the how and what? Will you be able to learn how to quit biting your nails and once again sleep at night if you give up control?

Micro managing means what?

Wikipedia defines micro-management as “a management style where a manager closely observes or controls the work of their employees, generally used as a derogatory term. In contrast to giving general instructions on smaller tasks while supervising larger concerns, the micromanager monitors and assesses every step, and avoids delegation of decisions.”

From this definition, we can deduce that employees consider their managers to be micro managing when they:

  1. Ask questions about the status of something
  2. Suggest ways to attack a project or handle something
  3. Follows-up with them regularly
  4. Expects a report or email on the status of things
  5. Employees also see the micromanager as someone who, in contrast to giving general instructions monitors and assesses every single step, and avoids delegation of decisions.

Number 5 is definitely someone who micro manages, but I’m not convinced that the others are. It’s the degree to which a manager asks questions or follows up, etc. However, let’s not bicker about specifics, let’s focus on the symptoms and how to recognize if you are micro-managing.

Who, what, when, where and why

Who are you obsessing about? If you are hovering around everyone then, yes, you probably are micro-managing. On the other hand, if it’s just one or two employees, maybe your concerns are justified based on their past performance.

What are you controlling? Are you controlling people, process, or results? Wanting a specific result and working towards getting it is reasonable. Controlling the people involved including their every action or step or the process means you step back as you’re micro managing.

When are you watching? Do you find yourself paying close attention when the higher ups are involved or a project has a lot of visibility? Or are you watching everyone like a hawk all the time?

Where are you paying attention? Are you paying attention to all projects regardless of size or importance? Do you find yourself focusing and controlling when things have gone wrong, or all the time?

Why are you doing it? Are you feeling pressured to excel at all costs? Are you feeling insecure about your ability to manage people or results? Have mistakes been made in the past and now you feel like you are under a microscope?

Ask yourself the who, what, when, where, and why questions to assist you in determining if your inner micro-manager is out of control or shows up when necessary.

Saying goodbye to micro management

If you can identify when and why this little guy shows up, then you have a chance of managing him. Focus on the results you want. Instead of telling people how to do things, ask them how they will approach the project or problem. They may be ready to do exactly what you want them to do without you instructing them. Don’t assume their way is the wrong way, or your way is the only right way.

Ask yourself how often things have gone wrong with this person or group. And even if the result hasn’t been perfect, was it impactful to the project or company? I think you get the picture. There are times it makes sense to micro-manage, but not as often as you may think, or as often as you are. Next time before you jump in with, ‘here’s how to do it’, ask yourself if it’s necessary or your little inner micro-manager is showing up.