Are you a micromanager? 4 questions to ask yourself.

To stop micromanaging, you must first recognize that you do it and understand why you do it, Caterine Kostoula, an executive coach and global business leader at Google, writes for Fast Company.

Micromanaging is one of the 10 boss habits most likely to make your employees quit, according to a survey by BambooHR. It's also one of the seven ways managers make life harder for their teams, according to one leadership consultant.

Kostoula argues that leaders often don't know when they're micromanaging—they might refer to themselves instead as merely a "control freak" or particularly "hands-on" manager, she writes. To help you identify whether you're truly a micromanager, Kostoula offers four questions you can ask yourself:

1: Do I wish my team was more creative?

Occasional risks are necessary for innovation. If you believe your team is lacking in creativity, Kostoula recommends reflecting on whether you have given them enough freedom to try something new.

2: Is my team underperforming?

A 2011 psychology study found that people who believe someone is watching them often don't perform as well at work. If your employees aren't performing at the level they should be, they may feel that you're watching them too closely.

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3: Do my employees frequently call out sick?

A recent Indiana University study found that even in demanding jobs, workers who felt they had a lot of control over their work were at a 34% lower risk of mortality. But workers who didn't feel in control had a 15.4% higher risk of mortality. "Stressful jobs can be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision making," the study's lead author says.

4: Am I focusing on the work only I can do?

Kostoula recommends thinking about your job description—if you're not spending most of your day doing the tasks listed there, she argues, then you probably aren't focusing on the areas where you can make the biggest impact.

If you realize that you are, in fact, a micromanager, then you can take steps to recover.

Kostoula argues that stress is the biggest reason why leaders micromanage, and she encourages managers to reflect on how stress affects their management style. She also encourages leaders to:

  • Schedule a 360-degree review to help you get anonymous feedback from your team and other colleagues about how your management habits affect their work;
  • Think about the underlying fears that may be driving you to micromanage, then tackle those fears with an executive coach or by making changes in your work process; and
  • Focus on the big picture of the team's mission and consider giving your team more flexibility about how they achieve those goals, so long as they hit them somehow (Kostoula, Fast Company, 10/16).

Also see: People don't leave organizations. They leave their managers.


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