“I am a micromanager,” said no event manager ever! Here’s what you need to know to find out if you actually are a micromanager and how it hurts your entire team if you are!
As an #eventprof, attention to detail is critical for success. This is where micromanaging pops up it’s ugly head! When working alone, management is simple - you do it all. You make all the choices and decisions. When you work with a team, though, the management becomes more complicated. For now, we are going to discover if you are a micromanager yourself, how it can negatively affect your work and your life, and how to change your ways.
What is a Micromanager?
Most micromanagers don’t realize what they are doing. Their management style and procedures have more than likely become routine to the point of no longer noticing and evaluating what they do. While it is easy for employees to realize when they are being micro-managed, it is often difficult for the employer themselves to realize what is happening.
Helene Lerner, author of “The Confidence Myth”, notes that when a micromanager is highly critical and detailed, it is usually not your fault, but an underlying fear the manager has. I believe she is on the right track, and that fear can be caused by many things, such as fear of failure or even fear that you may be better than they are.
Generally, the micromanaging habits come from good intentions, and micromanagers are generally not evil people! They simply want to create the best product and have true ownership over the project, but do not know how to effectively communicate and trust their team. If you are looking for ways to best work with your team, How To Think Like An Event Planner, explains how to put our awesome #eventprof skills to work in order to make our teams more successful!
How Can You Tell If You Are A Micromanager
The first step to determining your management style is to be aware of your surroundings. Watch how you act, as well as how your colleagues treat and react to you. Here are a few warning signs that may point to you being a micromanager:
- Delegation Troubles
Many micromanagers avoid delegation, with the mindset that nobody else can do it better than they can. While this may be true, they often do not give others the chance to show their own talents, by giving uber-precise instructions on how to do something, instead of just assigning a task to be done. Often, micromanagers even end up taking over tasks that they were able to actually delegate.
- Constant Check-Ins
Micromanagers have a tendency to constantly check on the progress of delegated tasks. While checking on progress is a good thing, it becomes a bit too much when true micromanagers get into it. Checking up can be multiple times per hour, and even extend to contacting other people to check in on you.
How many reports do you require? Are they actually beneficial? Many micromanagers have their colleagues endlessly working on detailed reports that do not actually provide relevant information. It becomes a waste of time and waste of talents.
(Think of the movie Office Space - ”...Yeah. It's just we're putting new coversheets on all the TPS reports before they go out now. So if you could go ahead and try to remember to do that from now on, that'd be great. All right!)
- Communication Troubles
How do your meetings work? Are you having open conversations with your team, or do they sit and listen to you tell them what to do and how to do everything? Do your colleagues enjoy coming to you to discuss projects or ideas they have? With most micromanagers, there is not much freedom among the team. The manager tells others what to do and that is the end of the story.
How Being A Micromanager Actually Affects Your Staff
- Lack of Motivation
Most micromanagers do not see a major problem with their actions. If the team is not successful, the manager will generally see others as the problem, and not their own unrealistic expectations. The team, knowing how hard they worked even though they were set up to fail from the beginning, will begin to feel bitter, unappreciated, and unmotivated.
When your colleagues know that you don’t care what they think and you constantly give uber-detailed instructions on how to do each task, with the expectation that you could do it better, morale will quickly take a serious downward spiral. If you add in constant checking on the progress of a task, your co-workers end up not trusting themselves or worse, not even caring to try.
- Balance of “Power”
One of the tricky issues is the power balance. There will always be a “boss” that has to make the final decision. If you have a strong and valued team, though, you should want their expert opinions leading up to your ultimate choice. If you do not trust your team to provide expert opinions and advice that help lead you in making the best choices, you need to determine if the problem lies with you or if you need to organize a more talented team.
While there always needs to be some semblance of order and authority, there also needs to be opportunities for every member of your team to be creative, learn, show their talents, and grow. If you do not allow your team to grow, you will kill their intrinsic motivation to want to achieve for you. For a while, you may find that they fight, trying to break through to you with ideas and effort. When you constantly tear their ideas apart, or take credit for it after a minor final tweak, they will also become stagnant, bored, and unmotivated.
“The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.” Tim McClure
Everyone wants to feel an ownership in what they do. They need to feel like they are a valued team member. If you want them to be self-motivated to do great work, they need to feel like they matter to you and the organization. When you have unmotivated coworkers or employees, the work suffers. When the work suffers, the micromanager goes into overdrive, since the lack of morale has actually created more work that truly needs to be fixed (instead of having great work to begin with). This begins a vicious cycle that unfortunately becomes habit - a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, doomed from the beginning.
How To Change
The first step is to acknowledge what you are doing. Remember that not everyone is perfect and not every situation is perfect. There are different levels of management - and mismanagement. Determine where you are and communicate your goals with your team. Let them know what your plans are. They will most likely welcome it and will be eager to help!
- Build And Trust Your Team
Make sure that you have surrounded yourself with the smartest and most intelligent people you can find. Each person on your team should be an expert in their own field. This is difficult for many managers, as they feel threatened by other people’s success. Try not to feel threatened and increase your authority, though. Think of it as an opportunity to create the most amazing team ever.
If you need an analogy, think of a sports team. The most successful teams have highly skilled players all over the field. Each player is an expert at their one position, and generally not as successful at another position. When they combine their skills and talents and work together, they win.
It is actually a positive thing to surround yourself with experts on various subjects - just be sure to allow them to interject their expert opinion into the conversation and be valued.
- Realistic Goals
When communicating with your team, don’t always tell them when something is due. Let them use their expertise to help build timelines. Obviously there are last minute projects and time crunches, where there is a firm deadline. These situations should not be constantly happening, though. On normal projects, you should be able to have open and honest conversations with your team about timelines and expectations. While you may think a project can be completed in a full day, that subject matter expert may be able to tell you it could be done in two hours, or maybe it needs more time and would take two days.
“Just” is one of my least favorite words. It should be categorized with some other 4-letter words I know. It is “just” a simple registration site. It is “just” a small conference. It is “just” a few phone calls. It’s “just” a few emails. It’s “just” one more thing. It’s “just” fill in the blank. As #eventprofs, we know it is never just “just”. With every “just” comes hundreds of details and tasks. Stay away from the word “just”. When new tasks come up, let your colleagues with more expertise in that field participate in the conversation to determine what those extra “just” details may be.
- Watch Morale
Morale is a tricky beast. To get the most out of employees and teammates, you have to value their opinions, even if they differ from your own. Both parties need to be open and listen to the reasons of each party. In the end, if you are the authority figure, you will have the ultimate decision, but you should truly listen to the expertise of your team. You created your team for a reason. Let them shine.
“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” - Richard Branson
Micromanagers have a bad rap. Nobody seems to like them, and for good reason. Ultimately, many micromanagers are just unaware of the problem, and may therefore be unable to change. As you grow and change, keep an eye on your management style. Without a skilled, motivated, and independent team, you are setting yourself up for failure. Instead of being threatened by working with talented people, change the way you perceive yourself from a boss to a mentor. You should be proud of the group and individual accomplishments of your team as you all grow. Listen to each other. Trust each other. Enjoy each other.