I have a confession.

I’m a recovering micromanager.

For a while I tried to justify it. Some of the ways might sound familiar.

I told myself:
‘This work is too important to let go completely.’
‘I just need them to keep me updated with what they’re working on.’
‘I just want to run my eyes over their work before it goes out, just to make sure there’s no mistakes.’
‘I just want them to cc me on any of the emails around this so I can stay on top of things’.

What I didn’t know is that it told my team:
‘I don’t trust you to do the work.’
‘I don’t trust that you’re doing enough work.’
‘I don’t trust the quality of your work.’
‘I don’t trust you to stay on top of your work’

Great leadership strengthens trust, inspires creativity, breaks dependency and deepens engagement. Micromanagement achieves the exact opposite. It erodes trust, kills creativity, reinforces dependency and lowers engagement. Some research puts it in the top three reasons employees leave.

The global pandemic has shown us that there is so much outside of our control. In some ways, micromanaging can create a false reality that we’ve got it back.

We need to be careful that our search for certainty and craving for control doesn’t translate into controlling behaviours with those we lead.

It’s possible to feel in control without becoming controlling. It looks like:

  • Being across everything without the need to be in everything.
  • Feeling confident work is getting done without doing all the work yourself.
  • Delivering excellent work without getting caught up in perfectionism.
  • Leaning on your team without looking over their shoulder.

I’ve titled this next short series “How to Feel in Control Without Being Controlling’ and in it we’re going to explore how to do just that.