Skip to main content

Blog: Help! I'm Addicted to Micromanagement!



While creating a training program for newly appointed managers,  I reflected on commonly faced challenges, as well as my own personal experiences. One of the greatest challenges I faced as a new manager was micromanagement. In fact, I may have been the worst micro-manager ever (to all of you out there that I may have micromanaged, I apologize).

Micro-Managing to Create “Mini-Mes”

Why Do New Managers Tend to Micro-Manage?

Micro-managing drove me crazy, so I know it drove my team crazy. As these embarrassing and painful growth experiences went through my mind I began to process through the reasons a new manager, or any leader, micromanages. I decided to throw the question out on Twitter™ and received great feedback from my Twitter world, including these answers:

  • Fear
  • Narcissism
  • Need to be in control
  • Lack of trust
  • Do not know how to let go
  • Need for perfection
  • Don’t think anyone can do it as well as they can
  • Someone may get more credit or recognition than them
  • Do not know what else to do

I think all these suggestions can be correct for different people in different situations. Upon pondering my own personal reasons for micromanaging, I found several of these to be true. I was a star individual performer who was promoted to management without any training in leadership. I knew how to do my job well as an individual performer. Once I was promoted, therefore, it made sense to create “mini-mes”. This is a really bad idea. It’s not a way to win friends and influence people. I thought that to increase someone’s performance all they needed to do was to do exactly what I did before I was promoted. I thought this would make them successful, thus making me successful – huge misconception. I know to those of you in leadership, this is obvious, but more often than not, it is not obvious to a new manager.

I was also fearful. I still made bonuses, but they were no longer based  on my individual performance. Instead, they were based on the team’s performance. In my young mind, this made it even more reason to create little “Me Robots.” If they could do the job exactly as I did, they could generate the same revenue I did, and we should all be happy… right?

As with most new leaders I was tapping into familiarity. I was doing what I knew how to do, but what I was doing was not producing the results I hoped for. It was not until one of my team members was leaving the organization that I had to face the truth. His parting comment to me was “you use the word team all the time, but there is no team here.” It was then that I realized that what I was doing was not working. I decided to educate myself on the skills of leadership. Following are the seven things I learned that helped me to regain perspective.

7 Tips to Help Micro-Managing Leaders:

  1. Recognize that micromanagement causes people to become resentful or turn their brains off: Why should they think if you are doing all the thinking for them?
  2. Become the leader of the team and not the star performer.
  3. Get to know your team members individually, learn what their strengths are and how to motivate them.
  4. Trust that they are able to succeed in their own way, and give them the room to grow and develop.
  5. Create a safe environment for innovation, creative ideas and new processes.
  6. Keep  in mind that NO ONE is motivated by micromanagement, no matter what the reason.
  7. Never be afraid to have a team of people who are smarter than you. When the team shines, the leader shines!

All aspects of the leadership journey are part of an insightful learning process. We never “arrive” and we are always gathering new information to apply. As leaders, it is meaningful to reflect on our journeys, seeking ways to improve our methods and style. As you reflect on your own journey, ask yourself what you have learned and how you can help new managers along the way.

Why do you think leaders micromanage? Do you have some tips to help micro-managing leaders overcome this addiction? Please share  you thoughts by leaving a comment to this article.


Tags:


Share this: