6 Signs You’re a Micromanager (and Ways You Can Change)


No one likes being called a micromanager. The word is insulting and conjures up images of overbearing bosses who lean over your shoulder as you work, barking orders about how you need to do every little thing.

But the truth is that many of us are just that. We may not intend to ride our teams, but often our passion gets in the way of our trust. It’s a dangerous place to put yourself and your team. Once that loyalty has been eroded, it can take a great deal of time and effort to repair it, if it even can be repaired.

So, why not take a moment and go honestly through this list and see if you exhibit any of these characteristics? Once you identify these tendencies, you can work towards erasing negative traits from your leadership style and in the process become a better, stronger and more productive leader.

be a project leader, not a micromanager

1. You’re Smarter Than Your Team 

Do you think you know it all? You’ve been leading projects for years, and you’ve seen it all before. You’re jaded, and no one is going to expose you to something you don’t already know because you’re smarter and more skilled than the lot of them.

Such rigidity is poison. Leadership isn’t being a blowhard. Not only is it untrue — many great leaders are more introverted — but it puts blinders on that can make you not see some major mishaps that may derail your project. You’ve assembled a team because of their skills and experience, so use them to help you direct the project on the ground, which frees you to take a more holistic view.

2. You Don’t Like to Delegate

You’re never available because you’re always inundated with work. There’s nothing that doesn’t have your personal stamp on it. Everything must go through you and in the process everything becomes bogged down and stressful.

But delegation is crucial to good management. No one can do it all, nor should they have to, unless the goal of your project is personal burnout. Think about why you’re hoarding all the work. Is it because you want it done right and you’re the only one who can do it, or is it more for your ego? Either way, it’s a mistake that can cost you your project’s success.

3. You Like to Hover

You know the type, the ones who can help but stick their nose in everyone’s business. You have tasked your team with their assignments and then you’re by their side constantly as they try to complete those tasks, asking questions, telling them how to do something.

You’re helping, right? Wrong. What you’re doing is interfering. It’s ironic that you would hire the best and the brightest and then stand in the way of their progress. It goes against everything you know as a manager, and it will sabotage your project in the end.

4. You Want (Endless) Reporting

Don’t get us wrong, reporting is a great way to measure a project’s success. You need to know where your team is in the lifecycle of the project, and you then must be able to articulate that point to the stakeholders. But there’s a time and a place for reporting, and that time and place isn’t all the time. How can anyone get their work done when they’re only reporting on what they haven’t completed?

It’s absurd, and shows a complete lack of trust in your team. If you don’t believe them capable of completing their tasks on time then why did you hire them in the first place? What you need to do is set up a schedule for realistic reporting so work is done and not slowed down by unnecessary paperwork.

5. You Tend to Stress People Out

You’re an authoritarian who demands that everyone and everything is approved by you. You want to control people because you believe it is the only way to insure project success. But what you’re really doing is exposing your weakness, which is fear of failure, and it will run rampant through your team like a cancer.

What you’re doing is preventing your team from doing their job by undermining their authority and in the process you have a timid team that is scared to move an inch without first getting your approval.

6. You’ve Been Told “You’re a Micromanager”

It’s true, we hear what we want to hear, and sometimes we just deny the truth even when it’s screaming in our faces. If we’re lucky. More likely you’ve become the subject of water-cooler conversations, a hot topic of office gossip. That’s even worse. You’re always the last to learn.

Leading a team means being a part of that team. You need to communicate, as we noted above, and build trust so that they have a safe environment in which to air constructive criticisms. Remember, as we said before, you don’t know it all, and you can learn a lot from your team to make you a better manager, leading a more productive project and maybe even not micromanage along the way.

One way to avoid micromanaging is by having a set of tools that provide you the information you need to lead without getting in the way of your team’s productivity. ProjectManager.com is 100% online project management software that allows you to keep tabs on your team’s progress, supports them to collaborate productively, and they in turn can notify you when they’ve completed a task through email alerts and task-level updates. Get your free 30-day trial.

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