Altering the Micromanagement Paradigm


How to navigate the micromanagement maze as a leader in the federal workplace?

Every employee deserves the freedom to choose how they get their work done. When you have a micromanaging boss, it can lead to friction and frustration. Nobody likes dealing with a manager who is constantly hovering over them and keeping tabs on everything.

The question that most people undergoing this predicament is:

How does one deal with a micromanaging boss without sabotaging their relationship and creating a toxic work environment?

If you've been searching for answers to that same question, here are some ways to help you spot and deal with a boss who micromanages you at work.

What Is Micromanaging?

Micromanaging is a trait of bosses who love to keep a close eye, manipulate, and control the overall work or flow of their teams. In essence, it doesn't sound like a bad thing, but there's nothing worse for the morale of an employee who is working under a micromanaging boss.

To understand when and how you're becoming a micromanager, you will need to recognize the essential traits. That essentially converts into noticing how and when you are telling your employees to do their work. Micromanagers will not only tell their team how they should be doing their job but will actually show them how to do it as well. Instead of letting the employee get the hang of it, they will spoon-feed them everything.

In theory, it sounds like the ideal scenario, but practically, supervisors and managers who are constantly looking over their employees' shoulders tend to create distrust and a lack of self-confidence in their teams. They should empower their team by giving them effective feedback in real-time, but micromanagers tend to keep all their fingers in the pie.

Another trait that could be damaging for micromanagers is not having the confidence to entrust important work to their team members. They tend to not trust their team to do the right task, and it isn’t conducive to making employees feel valued or building trust in the team.

Signs You Are Micromanaging Your Team

If you are overly critical of your employees work, constantly reject or degrade all their tasks, and tells them how you should be doing better, then you must face up to the reality that you are micromanaging them. Here are seven signs that should give you a good indication of when you are micromanaging your employees.

1. You Must Know Everything

Micromanagers have a classic tendency to be obsessive and compulsive. They need to have the exact details of all your work and will even request you to show you the work that you have put in. You also need to share how you can spend every minute of your workday. This generally is very frustrating and discouraging for employees because when this happens, managers can become overbearing and cause additional stress and anxiety for their employees.

2. You Refuse to Delegate

Micromanagers often hesitate to delegate simple jobs, tasks, or roles to their employees. Specifically why they feel the need to act this way is anybody's guess, but they tend to not wholly trust their subordinates to complete tasks in a timely manner.

Instead of trusting their team to work according to protocol, they tend to jeopardize the entire process and can cause a complete breakdown of their mental health. They may be able to improve productivity and have a streamlined work environment, but it is often at the cost of their own mental and physical health.

3. You Always Ask to Be Kept Updated

Employees are often already under the stress of working under a deadline, and then when your boss starts sending out hourly reminders and emails, it builds resentment in the team. Managers need to have patience and trust that their employees will do the tasks required of them. When they are constantly asking for updates and getting involved in every project, it takes away the independence of the employee involved in the process.

4. You Don't Like Independent Thinkers or Decision-Makers

One of the best things about working in an office is the chance to mingle with your colleagues, brainstorm new ideas, make independent decisions, and rely on your creative spark to tackle problems head-on. However, a micromanaging boss won't give their employees that freedom and space, as they don't like independent thinkers or decision-makers.

They want everyone to follow their protocols and not divert from other roles, as that causes problems for them. It also results in them having a lack of power or control over others in the workplace, and that is something that they either can't afford or want to give to others.

5. You Act Like a Dictator

When employees are left to be creative and think outside the box to resolve problems, it helps them bring fresh new ideas and perspectives to the fore. You may be a micromanager if you won't let your employees collaborate but instead want them to do things in the right manner. You want them to work in the way that you have told them, and if they divert from that path, you will give them a piece of their mind.

6. You Re-do Their Work after Submission

One of the most harmful things a micromanager does is not completely trusting their employees. They tend to judge their employees' work as sub-par and will often degrade them in front of others if they feel that they have not met the standards set by them. That's an ineffective way of managing a team, as it decreases morale. Also, if you are constantly re-doing your employee's work, then it's only going to drain your energy and time.

7. You Don't Have Complete Faith in Their Team

Micromanagement often stems from having a lack of trust, and if you lack faith in your employee’s skills or don't completely trust them to finish their work on time, you should take it as a sign that you are micromanaging them. Lack of trust in the workplace could often stem from the fact that you don't trust that they will do the work properly, or maybe you don't have confidence or faith in your employee’s abilities to get work done.

Why Do Bosses Micromanage?

Most bosses start with good intentions and will often want the very best for their team, but over time, they will lose track of what really is important to them. Micromanagers believe they are the best ones to do the job and won't allow others to take the limelight away from them. They obviously are the ones who believe that they can do things in the right manner.

If you're a micromanaging boss, then you should step back and look at the bigger picture because, in general, most of the time you don't even know you are micromanaging your team. The best way to deal with this is to ensure that you have crystal clear clarity about the roles and responsibilities of your team.

That will help you clear up any confusion regarding your employee’s goals and may allow them to do their duties properly. It will also boost confidence, as you can start trusting, doing, and performing your role to perfection. Some managers believe micromanaging is the best way to compensate for their lack of leadership qualities.

What Can You Do to Stop Falling into the Micromanaging Hole?

By now, you should be fully aware of all the signs and indicators that point out you are a micromanaging boss. However, don’t despair because it is extremely simple to climb out of that rabbit hole. Here are some of the best tips you can try to stop being a micromanaging boss:

1. Nurture an Environment of Trust and Accountability

First, you should try to establish and build trust with your team. Good bosses try to free up the schedule of their team so that everyone is at their productive best. That entails not having to approve each and everything constantly and giving employees the power to take ownership of their work and move projects forward without you having to review them.

2. Stop Chasing Perfection

Most managers tend to crumble under the weight and pressure of trying to be absolutely perfect in their role. Their fear of failure can be crushing for their confidence and morale as it controls their every move. You need to come to terms with the fact that there is more than one way to accomplish a task, and if your team is delivering on time and following all project objectives, then you don’t need to fret over minute details.

3. Encourage a Learning Culture

Good managers are the ones who are always willing to teach their subordinates or employees but in a manner that doesn’t come across as overbearing. Try giving your team complete autonomy and encourage them to experiment and develop newer ways to do their jobs. That may involve adopting a fail-forward culture, which essentially means that you treat mistakes as learning opportunities and improve your overall growth.

Your main role as a manager should be to guide your team and not try to steer the ship in your direction. The only time you need to step in and take charge is when you repeat mistakes and aren’t bothered attitude by your employees.

Final Thoughts

Lack of trust, insecurity, and fear are, in general, the factors that most commonly result in micromanagement for any manager. These issues need to be addressed and rectified properly, and that involves having honest and clear communication. You need to be candid and positive when you communicate anything with your employees and try to look at things from their perspective as well.

After you have communicated and established clear boundaries, you can start moving forward and looking towards building a healthy working relationship. Great managers let their stalwarts lead the way, ensure that the limelight falls on them, and are willing to learn from them. That is often the key to establishing a robust, productive, and healthy work environment.

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