Help me, I can’t stop micromanaging!

Ever feel like you can’t stop micromanaging?

Yesterday I received this email:

Dear Jeanne,

I work in a highly technical field. Six months ago I was promoted to supervisor, and I am terrified that my employees will make mistakes. We have strict timelines and accuracy is essential. How can I make sure my employees will be on time and are accurate with their work unless I manage it very closely? I email my staff with daily reminders and make sure to touch base every day to see how things are going.

Last week I overheard two of my employees complaining that I am a micromanager. I don’t think they understand the stress I am under. I like my employees, and I want them to think I am doing a good job. How can I make sure that the work gets done well and on time without them thinking I am a micromanager?



Here’s my reply:

Dear Pete,

Your employees are right. You are a micromanager. It’s not unusual for new supervisors to micromanage, so don’t be too hard on yourself. I am glad you are trying to find other styles of management; because what you are doing now sends the message to your employees that you don’t trust them. I don’t think that’s what you intend to do. Let’s approach this in two parts.

     – First, here are some thoughts you will need to absorb and accept before you can change your tendency to micromanage:

• Your employees want to succeed.

• Micromanagement will not ensure the success of the projects or processes.

• Frequent email reminders and hovering will not give your employees a chance to demonstrate the ability to complete projects on time and to show initiative.

• Micromanagement will decrease the morale of your group, because the message you send them is that you don’t trust them.

     – Now let me share some tips to help get you be more effective and still have the performance you need:

Meet with your group and share your concerns about how best to succeed as a team. Follow that with a discussion about the work load, time lines and expectations for performance.

Propose a plan for getting accurate work done in a timely fashion. That plan should include a reporting and accountability process; that is, how and when the employees will report their progress and the results to you.

Ask for their input. Listen carefully to their suggestions. If you like some, discuss them and find a way to work together to modify a system that will work well for everyone.

Ask for a commitment from the employees to stick to the plan.

Give a commitment to let them succeed.

Review the process together and make modifications, as needed.

This will be hard, at first. Expect a few bumps in the road. Maybe you should start small and gradually include more projects. By letting your employees know you are aware of your tendencies to micromanage and your commitment to help them succeed, you will be laying the groundwork for trust and communication.

Keep me posted, Pete.



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