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Tell-Tale Signs You're a Micromanager

Colleen Egan, Writer

Of all the labels you don’t want to earn at work, “micromanager” has to be near the top of the list. Because you don’t earn that title for simply being detail oriented and conscientious. Instead, you get it because your employees feel like you’re always checking up on them, and that you don’t trust them enough to do their work without you stepping in. If you’ve never had a micromanaging boss, you’re lucky. But most people will recognize these classic signs. And if you suspect that you might have a bit of a micromanaging problem, this could be the wake-up call you need to change your ways.

You’re always hovering.

Whether you are literally standing over your employee’s shoulder or doing so figuratively through constant emailing, messaging, or calling, your inability to step away and let them do their work is a dead giveaway that you’re micromanaging.

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You consistently email employees outside of work hours.

There’s nothing wrong with asking your direct reports to check their email once over the weekend or late at night, but don’t create a situation where they feel like they have to constantly monitor their inboxes on their days off. Only contact them if there’s something urgent — not just to ensure that they’re checking in.

You don’t consult with colleagues.

If you’re not talking to and collaborating with your coworkers, ask yourself why not? If it’s because you don’t value or trust anyone else’s input, then you’re probably a micromanager. Working with others doesn’t make you a weak manager. Instead, it’s a sign that you have an open mind and you’re savvy enough to seek the advice of other qualified people. And that’s a sign of a strong leader.

You don’t know the meaning of the word “delegate.”

Well, maybe you know what it means, but you don’t put it into practice. As a manager, it’s your job to divvy up the work and assign it to your employees, not take everything on yourself.

You’re not finishing your own work.

If you consistently find that you don’t have time to complete your assignments, it might have something to do with that delegation problem. When you’re always checking up on others and immersing yourself in their work, it’s not surprising that you don’t have enough bandwidth to complete your own.

You struggle to develop high-level strategies.

It’s nearly impossible to take a step back and plan for the future when you’re mired in the details of not just your projects but also those of your direct reports. In other words, in addition to making you an unpopular supervisor, micromanaging has the potential to damage your career by hindering your ability to see the big picture. And if you can’t do that, it’s hard to develop strategies and meet goals.

Colleen writes for Square, where she covers everything from how aspiring entrepreneurs can turn their passion into a career to the best marketing strategies for small businesses who are ready to take their enterprise to the next level.