If you find that you regularly require others to use the same methods you choose to solve problems—even if other solutions are equally effective—or if you spend as much time following up on the work of others as you do on your own tasks, you may be a micromanager. While ensuring that the details of a project are consistent and correct is an honorable endeavor, micromanagers are often frustrated by frequent complaints by coworkers or subordinates and mistrust from upper management who see their inability to delegate as a flaw in leadership skills. So, if you constantly find yourself backtracking, changing the work of others to suit your preferences, or refusing to delegate, then it may be time for an intervention.
Refusing to recognize the problem or avoiding the problems that arise with a micromanaging personality can led to lost promotion, slowed career growth, and the inability to get assigned the projects you want. The central issue for most micromanagers involves delegation. As such, one’s view of delegation is the first thing that must change when looking to step away from old habits. If you are unable to believe that your colleagues or employees can do the work and succeed, then your personality will only decrease productivity, increase interpersonal friction, and lower morale.
If you feel that you are a micromanager and are viewed as difficult to work or collaborate with, the following steps can help you get past your damaging behaviors:
• If you are a leader or have a particularly conflict-ridden history at your post, your human resources department probably has a file of complaints against you. If you can get an idea of how other people perceive your behavior you can focus on ways to change your ways in order to avoid interfering with the jobs of others. An HR representative or mentor may also be available to approach your reports or coworkers to determine the on-the-ground problems caused by your actions. When you receive adequate input, you can address head on the issues that are causing the most discord in you workplace.
• The secret to delegation is to understand that it isn’t simply about assigning responsibilities then walking away. It’s a two-way street involving the understanding and support of the selected person who must have a feel for why the task is important and have an outline of what that person is expected to do. The team member should also be checked up on regularly for work updates and so that he or she knows the work is meaningful.
• Keeping a regular review process can help you soothe your own worries while ensuring a project is moving along smoothly. When the team is organized with senior members guiding the less-experienced ones and when autonomy is given to the team as a unity, each member will be motivated to work as hard as he/she can so that they avoid the stigma of being responsible for a misstep.
• It’s easy to fall back into the ways of micromanaging; especially during a crisis. When a project gets off track and you feel you need to be more involved to get things back to normal, you may be tempted to resume your micromanaging ways. But the key is to gradually back off and let the team function as an egalitarian unit rather than a dictatorship.
The higher you are up the totem pole the more vital it is for you to avoid your micromanagement tendencies and display only your skills as a leader. And your ability to delegate will not only allow your team members to understand what’s at stake and work hard toward a shared goal but also a way for you to develop your own leadership skills as your career advances.