Management Tips: 4 Signs You're a Micromanager (and How to Stop Being One)

Many bosses don't follow suggested management tips and fail to realize just how involved — and disruptive — they are on a daily basis.

Boss, Micromanager, Productivity, Work environment

Managers are expected to be aware of what their employees are doing on the job. However, they are not expected to manage their employees' actions down to the smallest detail — that would be considered micromanagement. Unfortunately, many bosses don't follow suggested management tips and fail to realize just how involved they are being on a day-to-day basis. And they certainly don't understand the negative impact it has on team morale and productivity.

Even if you've been keeping a tight grip on your growing team of employees, it's not too late to turn it around. Take a look at these four signs that indicate you might be a micromanager — and find out what you can do to change these behaviors:

1. You're Unable to Delegate

An inability to assign tasks to your employees is perhaps the primary symptom of being a micromanaging boss. The reason for doing this? You may feel you can't trust employees to do the work correctly, believe you demand higher standards for quality than subordinates, or think you're simply better suited to perform the work.

No matter what the underlying cause, the result is that your desk is piled high with important — and interesting — projects while your employees slog through the boring — and un-motivating — everyday tasks.

2. You Make All the Decisions

Do subordinates need to get your approval, even for basic tasks, before anything can be done? This approach causes a marked reduction in productivity and, even worse, employees may become too timid or fearful to do anything on their own. Additionally, subordinates may go to extraordinary lengths to avoid meeting or contacting you.

3. You're a Helicopter Boss

When you assign a task to an employee, do you hover nearby, every step of the way? You are guilty of being a micromanager if you dictate how the project should be done, and constantly email, call or text the person for updates. Helicopter bosses also have a need to know what employees are doing every minute of the day, hovering around their desks unnecessarily.

4. High Turnover Rate

Micromanagement creates a toxic work environment that inhibits creativity and autonomy. Most people will only tolerate such negativity for a short time before leaving for better opportunities. If you find that you simply can't keep good people in the job, your management style may be to blame.

You Can Turn It Around

Similar to many issues in life, knowing what you're doing wrong is the first step to improving. You can change your micromanagement habits with a little desire and some insight into proven management tips. If you exhibit any of the above signs for being a micromanager, here's what you can do to change starting now:

  • If your employees haven't said anything yet, ask them for feedback about your behavior. It may be hard to hear, but it's important to listen to what they have to say if you want to establish good relationships with them.
  • Apologize for any past mistakes and assure your employees you're ready to change.
  • A good first step is to assign small tasks to your employees. Tell them the exact results you need, but then avoid meddling in the details of how they complete these tasks. Only ask for updates when appropriate.

This is only the beginning. As trust builds between you and your team, you can move employees on to bigger and better tasks. Be sure to make a habit of listening to your employees and look for ways to invest in their successes. You'll gain their trust and your office will run a lot more smoothly.

Good working relationships are based on mutual respect. When you move from being a micromanager to a team leader, you'll get more done and retain good people more frequently.