There are enough micromanagers out there that it’s likely everyone at some point has suffered at the hands of one. While it’s easy for an employee to tell when their manager is a little too hands-on, it’s harder for that manager to realise what he or she is actually doing.

Micromanagers often arise for a handful of reasons. Perhaps a small business owner has recently hired their first few employees, and don’t yet know how to let go of the reins on projects. For others, it may be a case of being promoted from a ‘shop floor’ position into a managerial one, and not quite knowing how to step away from their old role. Others can simply think they are being helpful by having a finger in every pie.

The danger of micromanagers is varied. For one, it can hurt the manager themselves, as he or she spends too much time overseeing smaller projects, when they should have their focus on bigger goals and issues. For the staff, it can be stifling, frustrating, and a barrier to good inter-work relationships. For the company as a whole, it holds back employees as they aren’t given the space to learn and grow, and therefore become a more valuable asset to the organisation.

Are you a micromanager?

 If you haven’t already recognised the signs from one of the common reasons for being one above, there are a few other symptoms to check for.

One is that you have more systems in place than anyone can keep track of. Systems are a great way to ensure work gets done to standard, but with a system in place for every little job, you may be overdoing it. Don’t be afraid to ask staff for feedback on which of your systems are helpful, and which ones aren’t. Keep any that actually make sense in the workplace, and scrap those that simply add red tape.

You might constantly be swamped with work- which is often a sign as a manager that you’re either spending too much time micromanaging others, or that you’re not delegating enough of your work. Start by stepping back from everyone else’s projects, and if you really don’t feel you can delegate your work, make a plan to train up your strongest employees so that you can.

When you do hand out a task, the micromanagement way is to tell people exactly how it must be done. While a few instructions are normal, giving a step-by-step process is often unnecessary. Instead, hand out the task, and invite your staff to ask questions if they need advice.

You may struggle to take holidays, days off, or breaks. Micromanagers tend not to like to be away from the workplace in case something happens that they need to be there for. If that’s you, start with a day or two off here and there and work up to a bigger break. Learning to trust your team while you’re gone (without calling in every day for check-ups) will do everyone some good.

Most importantly, remember that almost all mistakes can be fixed, so if your employee makes one because you stepped back as a manager, it’s not the end of the world. It’s far more likely that your employee will rise to the occasion.