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Micromanaging: 5 signs you’re doing it; 4 ways to stop it

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Management Training

When it comes to assigning projects, do you spend most of your time telling employees how to do the work? Or do you give them clear goals and guidelines, then get out of the way?

Micromanaging is an inefficient use of a manager’s time. It signals distrust of employees and inhibits them from taking initiative.

Effective managers strike a balance: They provide hands-on supervision and pay attention to detail without excessively monitoring the minutiae.

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Here are key signs of micromanaging and advice on how to reduce it.   

Traits of micromanagers

1. You require frequent updates and reports on details and procedures involved in daily tasks and long-term projects. You feel the need to be “on top of” everything employees do.

2. You believe that you should have better skill, knowledge and judgment than everyone you supervise. You feel that nobody in the department can make better decisions than you about anything.

3. You rarely delegate responsibilities and decision-making. You ask employees to consult with you before making decisions and become irritated when they don’t.

4. You have a low tolerance for mistakes and withdraw work assignments before completion because of even small slip-ups.  

5. Employees are disengaged. They agree with everything you say and no longer offer suggestions to handle job duties and resolve issues.

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1. Clearly communicate expectations, in both project quality and deadlines. Managers who communicate imprecisely can end up micromanaging because employees don’t understand performance expectations. Create a checklist if needed.

2. Determine who, what and when you micromanage. Is it all projects or certain types? Is it some employees or all of them? Do you tend to micromanage at certain times of the day or week?

3. Learn to delegate gradually. Steadily reduce the time spent micromanaging top performers and those who demonstrate the ability to be productive without constant, detailed supervision. Delegate the least critical tasks and decisions first, and eventually include more important assignments as your comfort level with delegating increases.  

4. Start with a question. Begin every discussion about a new project or task by asking employees for suggestions.

Bottom line: Realize that micromanaging hampers the ability of managers and employees to perform to their full potential. Learn to find that balance between effective quality control and empowering your employees.

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