Managing a team isn't a piece of cake. Everyone who has ever been responsible for managing a team knows that it's tempting to over-control your team members. On the other side, it's also prevalent that managers are too busy with their work and therefore they don't have enough time to manage the team. This article discusses the first situation - the situation when managers tend to micromanage the team members. Let's see what the signs of being micromanaged are and if there is any way how to avoid it.
What Does Micromanaging Mean?
In simple words, micromanaging means that someone is continuously looking over your shoulders, controlling and monitoring every step you do. However, micromanaging doesn't have to be always 100% bad. In some cases, let's say, when you hire a new colleague or an intern, maybe there will be some micromanaging needed at the beginning. But the micromanaging shouldn't last long! A manager should always strive to let the team members work their way and give them the needed freedom. Otherwise, it can lead to team members dissatisfaction & demotivation since they start to feel stifled.
What Are the Indicators of Being Micromanaged?
1. You are still being controlled.
Whenever there is a chance, your manager tries to monitor if you are working, what you have done and how long it takes you to finish a specific task. Besides, you have to hand in regular reports of the tasks done (sometimes even a couple of times a day). Of course, this never-ending control frustrates the team members because they lack the freedom they need to do their work right.
2. You can't make decisions on your own.
Every decision (even if it's relevant for your position and experience), you are asked to discuss with your manager and let it approve. This brings about two main problems. If you are waiting for the decision to be made by the manager, you lose your precious time. If the manager is busy and can't let you know the decision, you need to wait and probably can't work further because you're blocked. The second thing is that if you can't make the decisions, you are dependent on your manager. What if he/she is on vacation or business trip and can't get in touch with you?
3. Your manager gives you a list of to-dos.
It's also a common practice that the micromanager gives you a to-dos list and keeps asking you the entire day if you have already done the issues. In the long run, it can be frustrating because you don't have time to create tasks you think should be done and discuss them with the manager. This approach also discourages you from thinking about the problem from the broader perspective and thinking out-of-box.
4. Feedback flow doesn't work.
In a normal situation, managers should be able to give feedback to the team members, but this should also work vice versa. When micromanaging, team members are often being criticised without being given proper feedback from the manager. What's more, when a team member wants to give feedback to the manager, he/she usually doesn't appreciate the input because micromanagers look for the weakness only in others.
5. Your ideas/improvements are overseen.
Most managers welcome improvements and ideas on how to improve a product/service, but not by micromanagers. They are not open for improvements and ideas from the team members because they think that only they can come up with the best solutions. Micromanaging can in this example lead to the fact that the team members won't want to share their fresh ideas, which can harm the overall teamwork.
How to Avoid Being Micromanaged?
Is there a solution? Sure, but there will be much effort needed from the manager as well as the team members. Communication is the key (as in many other cases). Try to arrange a meeting with your manager, explain the consequences of being micromanaged and at the same time, suggest solutions.
E.g. In the first case, when you're still under control and have to send umpteen reports a day, suggest to him/her that you would provide the manager only with one comprehensive report at the end of your working day. This solution saves the manager much time since he/she doesn't have to check various reports a day. What's more, if you choose the right tool, e.g. Scrumie, for the team, the manager can see the overview of the work done of the entire team in one place. For sure, it's challenging to talk about micromanaging with the manager because the reaction can't always be pleasant. But if you won't try it, you will keep being controlled all the time.
What is your experience with micromanaging? Have you ever been micromanaged? How did you manage to solve it?