The Way You Lead Matters

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Registry Partners

Picture a scenario when someone is asked to type or look up something on the computer and there is a person standing over their shoulder or watching them onscreen through a virtual meeting. The person typing tends to get nervous, makes a couple of typos, and then says, “It’s so hard to do this while someone is watching me.” This is a classic setting of what happens when an employee is micromanaged. Mistakes will happen, the person will get flustered, and no one goes home happy.

So why do some leaders take on a micromanaging approach? Is it because they believe they can do it better, don’t want to explain the process, or maybe have an unwillingness to relinquish control? The need to control every aspect of a process may lead to success, but it can have a very negative effect on employee morale. Employees can become stressed, have attendance problems, lack of motivation, and may eventually resign.

What behavior constitutes micromanaging? 

  • Insisting to be copied on all emails.
  • Inability to delegate work.
  • Only acknowledging an employee when an error is present.
  • Always needing to know the status of each employee and their daily tasks.
  • Requiring every task to be approved.
  • Overcomplicating instructions.
  • Feeling that no one else can do the job as well as they can.

If you have identified that you exhibit some or all of the listed behaviors, there is still hope for you to turn it around and rebuild your relationship with your employees. The first, and most important step, is to build trust with your team. They need to know that they are in their role because you know they can do the work you expect them to do.

The next few steps will come with time and practice as it requires you to focus on the big picture instead of minute details. If you learn to let go, delegate, and give yourself a break, you will feel less stressed and have more time to focus on your own duties. When mistakes happen, take that as an opportunity to allow the employee to identify the reason and provide a solution going forward. This will give them a sense of empowerment in their work.

The final and easiest step is to reward the good things. Tell them they’ve done a great job or their idea was really innovative. Your employees need to hear from you, both the good and the bad. A pat on the back can really go a long way.

If you happen to be the employee of the micromanager, you have steps to take too with your manager. Let your manager know that you’d like to meet and have a discussion. When you meet, state your concerns and be prepared to offer specific examples. Do this respectfully and professionally. If your manager is unwilling to hear your feedback or make adjustments, escalate it to their manager or HR.

The ultimate goal is to have a manager and employee that work cohesively together to achieve the company’s goals. The manager may not even be aware that they are micromanaging. Open communication and a willingness to make change will better everyone in the long run!

Graphic by Nuthawut Somsuk on iStock