5 Signs You Might Be Micromanaging Your Remote Team

| Employee Engagement
A boss who micromanages his team
Micromanaging your team can take a serious negative impact on employee morale. In this guest article from Dave Lavinksy, you’ll learn what exactly micromanaging is as well as the biggest signs you might be doing it and how to change it.

In today’s telecommuting world, how you manage your employees can determine the success of your company.  

According to a survey from Growmotely, 74% of surveyed employees expected remote work to become standard in 2020. Many major corporations, including Slack, Twitter, Amazon, and Hubspot allow their employees to work from home on a full-time or hybrid basis.  

Even before the spread of COVID-19, which exacerbated the growth of telecommuting, remote work was already on the rise. But despite this, many businesses were prematurely forced into the remote work style without training or preparation. They didn’t know how to create a culture of collaboration, onboard effectively, or use the right remote work tools. And as a result, it’s no surprise that some remote employees have fallen victim to micromanagement tactics from their superiors.  

In this article, you’ll learn what micromanagement is, the potential problems it can cause, and the telltale signs that you might be micromanaging your team.  

What is Micromanaging?  

Micromanagement is a management style where a manager or supervisor controls, closely observes, and constricts employees.  

This is problematic because companies with micromanaged cultures rarely fare well; their employees don’t feel trusted, they don’t take ownership of their projects, and the general company morale is low. This often leads to high employee turnover.  

While it’s natural to want to have oversight in your company, there’s a fine line between giving guidance and domineering your employees’ workload.  

And because of this, many managers fail to realize when they’re micromanaging their employees or how they’re doing it.  

5 Signs You’re Micromanaging Your Team  

Part of being a better, more effective manager is educating yourself and working towards self-improvement. 

So, the first step is to understand the most common traits of micromanagement. Here are five of them. 

1. You Restrict Decision-Making 

Micromanagers may not have a problem delegating trivial tasks to their employees, but they do have a problem letting their employees problem-solve and make their own decisions.  

Here’s an exercise to try: think about the decisions your organization has to make on a daily basis. Record those decisions each day, noting who was responsible for making them. At the end of the week, how many of those decisions came from you versus your employees?  

Micromanagers typically have an innate paranoia that if they don’t do the work or make the decisions themselves, something will go wrong. If this sounds like you, the next task you should assign yourself is handing out more responsibility—without interference.  

2. Your Projects Take Longer Than They Should 

a manager who micromanages staff

In an effort to get everything done perfectly, micromanagers often take longer to complete projects. They have incredibly busy schedules, and their strict approval process creates a bottleneck in their operations. If you notice that your goals take longer to achieve, it could be a sign that you’re far too involved and, because you’re the only person allowed to make concrete decisions, tasks are consistently stalled.  

For example, let’s say you’ve tasked an employee with writing a business plan for a VIP client account. Instead of letting them manage that account independently, you request first-looks at each portion of the business plan. You make edits and suggestions that prevent them from meeting their deadlines and discourage them from performing to the best of their abilities.  

If you notice that your team regularly misses milestones and deadlines, take some time to analyze your approval process and identify bottlenecks in the project. Chances are you’ll find that removing bottlenecks involves removing yourself. 

3. You Vigorously Search for Errors 

Micromanagers go out of their way to find something wrong in order to validate their distrust of the team. For example, if an employee is tasked with manning social media accounts, a micromanager might ask to see each post before it goes live or scrutinize posts they didn’t approve of. If you find yourself finding the mistakes in everything, ask yourself, how consequential are these mistakes?  

Furthermore, recognize that employees who expect high levels of scrutiny are less likely to submit error-free work because they’ll never face real-world consequences of their mistakes. These employees might also be so accustomed to criticism that it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect them to make mistakes, they will.  

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call your employees out on their mistakes—it simply means that you shouldn’t go out of your way to look for them or to point out a mistake for the sake of telling them they messed up.  

4. You Avoid Teaching 

a manager and their team member collaborating

Even the most skilled employees want to work for someone they can learn from. Whether you have a certification in a specific marketing tool or are skilled at creating custom Excel spreadsheets, it’s important for you to share that knowledge.  

Micromanagers refrain from sharing their knowledge because they believe it depletes their value at the company. Instead of showing someone else how to do something, they aim to make themselves indispensable by being the only person who knows how to do it.  

But the truth is that teaching someone else allows that employee to look up to you as a mentor and builds loyalty and trust. It also helps relieve the burden of your to-do list so you can focus on other business-building processes. If your employees are constantly asking for guidance or instructions on how to do something, take the time to teach them.  

5. You Don’t Ask for Feedback 

Feedback should flow in both directions in a healthy employee-manager relationship. Managers who stifle their team are typically only interested in having one-way conversations; they are quick to offer their employees feedback but slow to request feedback on their management practices. Great managers go out of their way to see how they can improve their management style and, thereby, improve productivity in the company.  

Take time to solicit feedback from your employees in a manner that makes them comfortable. For example, in addition to asking for feedback during quarterly reviews, consider collecting feedback anonymously through tools like TINYpulse or Incogneato. On the same token, take feedback seriously. Instead of responding to constructive criticism or negative feedback with a “that’s just how things are done” disposition, take a step back and consider how you could do things differently.  

If you want to learn how to implement a better feedback process, you might want to consider a formal training program focused on productive feedback and performance reviews

Being a micromanager isn’t always intentional. Sometimes it’s the result of habits built up throughout your career or even the result of having worked for a micromanager earlier in your career. But what matters most is identifying these traits in yourself if they exist and finding ways to mitigate them. 

Doing so will help improve your employee engagement, their productivity, and, ultimately, the success of your organization.   

Learn More About Group Skills Training Program to Help Reduce Micromanagement and Improve Leadership Effectiveness.

For more information about how your group can take part in a virtual or in-person team building, training, or coaching solution, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.   

Author Bio:

Dave Lavinsky

Dave Lavinsky is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of business planning, capital raising, and new venture development. He is the co-founder of Growthink, a firm that has helped over 1 million companies develop business plans to start and grow their companies and raise billions in growth capital. Over the past decade, Dave has guest lectured at top universities, developed over 100 business plans, and has written hundreds of articles on entrepreneurship, business planning and capital-raising.


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