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12 signs you're a micromanager: it's killing employee engagement!

 12 signs you are a micromanager and 5 ways to fix resized 600

Many people think they are being effective managers are shocked to learn their actions are stifling growth and creativity. The cause? Not realizing they’re the dreaded micromanager

What is micromanagement? defines micromanagement as “to manage or control with excessive attention to minor details.”  Micromanagers tend to focus on the how versus focusing on the outcome or the results. They will often demand that a task or project is executed in a particular way rather than affording autonomy or flexibility to the team or individual being micromanaged.  

Why micromanagement is bad?
Micromanagers are bad for business and bad news for employees. Why? They disempower staff, stifle opportunity and innovation, and instead of creating a results focused work environment, they give rise to poor performance. Just take a look at stats about Gallup’s view on the Manager From Hell.  

5 signs you're a micromanager and it's hurting employee engagement


Signs of micromanagement:
Perhaps the best way to way to minimize the effects of micromanagement is to identify the signs. Here are a few signs that I would use to determine if micromanagement is in question:

  1. Hard time delegating work
  2. Looking at the detail instead of the big picture
  3. Monitoring what’s least important and not on the results
  4. Inserting themselves in the work of others without first consulting them
  5. Immersing themselves in projects / activities assigned to others
  6. Discouraging others from making decisions about how to complete a task / project
  7. Dictating that work is performed in a very particular way versus focusing on a successful outcome
  8. Taking back delegated work before it’s finished or ready for review
  9. Constantly checking in on progress at unrealistic intervals and hovering
  10. Demanding unrealistic turnaround times without consulting with the employee on when they think they could get the job done
  11. A demotivated team with low performance
  12. High employee turnover

Often when you’re being micromanaged, you might feel helpless and held back from growing professionally. Micromanagement can be a hard battle to fight. There are a few things that you can do to help ease it.

1. Look at what you’re doing (or not doing):
Identify the areas that you need to improve and work on that. And, if you feel comfortable, ask your manager what could you be doing differently. Make sure you document your improvements so that you can share this with your manager whenever necessary.

2. Identify patterns:
After a while, you should be able to identify patterns in your micro manager's behavior. Watch for what causes certain outbursts related to the work you’re responsible for.

3.  Understand your manager’s persona:
Try to see things from their perspective, understand their motivations and get clear on the business objectives they are responsible for achieving. Uncovering their motivations and goals can help you better anticipate their needs and help you better manage them.

4. Establish KPIs (Key Performance Indicators):
Once you’re “attuned” to you micromanager and understand both their goals and motivations, work with them to establish your KPIs. By clearly identifying what you’re responsible for and how you’re going to meet your KPIs should help remove any emotion from their decisions. More importantly this will help align them with a results focused management style versus focusing on unimportant details.  

5. Constant communication:
Now that you better understand their persona and have uncovered their behavioral patterns, get ahead of them by anticipating their needs. In the beginning, while you’re trying to establish trust, send daily status updates about progress on projects you’re working on, highlight where you’ve had success and where you’re looking for their input. Couple this with a weekly 1:1, try doing this away from a conference room or the office so they take their mind away from their behavior patterns! The hope is this will help you build a positive relationship with your manager and reduce the micromanagement tendencies. 

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Screen Shot 2014 03 09 at 2.25.33 PM  

Joseph Cole, @joefcole
Head of Marketing,



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