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Manager’s Checkup: Are you a micromanager?

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

It's hard to find anyone who'll admit to being a "micromanager" — or who'll say anything positive about that breed of manager. But sometimes, we all fit the bill, even when we think we're just being "hands-on" or "engaged" with our teams and their work. Are you sure you don't micromanage your employees? Take this quiz and find out.

For each statement, give yourself a score from 1 to 5, 1 being "strongly disagree" (or "never") and 5 being "strongly agree" (or "always"):

1. I've never found delegation to be helpful in motivating my people toward improved performance; I feel like I usually end up with quality work only through my own efforts.

2. I like, or would like, to have regular, scheduled meetings with each of my employees, in addition to group meetings, where we talk about recent and upcoming projects.

3. I believe that a good manager has to be where his people are, and spend more time in his employees' work areas than in his own.

4. I take responsibility for acquiring all our tools and equipment.

5. I provide my own boss with detailed reports to keep him or her informed about my workgroup.

6. I tend to play "devil's advocate" when my employees come to me with their ideas or report back on their progress.

7. I plan out well in advance the assignments I'm going to hand to each employee.

8. I try to find out how each project went, and talk about how it could have gone better, before my employees have moved on to the next task.

9. I try to trust everyone to do their best, but too often my employees have not done their best, and there have been problems as a result.

10. I find, or would find, it very difficult to manage workers who weren't physically on site.

What does your score mean?

Low scores are better, but if you scored very low — below 16 — you may want to consider being a little more hands-on. A score between 18 and 28 is ideal. Scores over 30 (out of a possible 50) mean you should look carefully at your management style. Things to consider:

- Don't use past poor examples as a model for all future employees. Every employee has to earn trust and autonomy, but every employee should have the chance to do so.

- Don't confuse your desires with your obligations or responsibilities. Do you really have to monitor employees so closely or take so much control of work processes? If not, then don't.

- Compare your relationship with your subordinates to your dealings with your own boss. Many managers express their personal job insecurities by micromanaging everyone else — and then using that control to impress the boss.

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