Everybody Hates a Micromanager

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If your boss is trying to control you like a puppet, there are ways to cut the strings.

The belief that the world would be a better place if only we could control more of it is deeply human (“if I were king …”), but when that urge creeps into the office as a management style, you might end up dragging everyone else down. 

"Bosses micromanage because they like the feeling of control," said Muriel Maignan Wilkins, an executive coach and author of the Harvard Business Review article, "Signs That You're a Micromanager." 

"They're looking to control the situation that they're in and ensure they're getting to the results they desire." 

She describes micromanagers as never satisfied. They always feel they can do things better. And they spend way too much time focused on the details of "how" something is done rather than "what" the outcome is. 

"One of my favorites is the need – and desire – of just wanting to be copied on every email that your staff puts out," said Wilkins. 

The end result is often low moral as employees internalize that style as distrust or dissatisfaction with their work. 

If you are a micromanager (or fear you might be one) Wilkins lays our four steps to changing your management style:

  1. Shift your mindset. "Get over all the excuses you make as to why you have to micromanage."
  2. Let go. Don't delegate 100 percent of your work overnight. Identify a few smaller priority items that can be given to a colleague.
  3. Set expectations. Make sure you provide clear direction on what you expect the outcome to be. 
  4. Boost confidence. Let employees know you think they can do the job.

And finally, accept the fact that curbing the tendency to micromanage doesn't always led to a successful outcome. 

"Every now and then there is going to be some failure. And that's okay. That's all part of learning," said Wilkins.

But remember, a little failure is not an invitation to dust off those old controlling habits.