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7 Subtle Signs You’ve Become a Micromanager, According to Harvard

Topics: Career Advice
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AnnaMarie Houlis via Fairygodboss

No one likes a micromanager on their back all the time. But what if you’re the micromanager?

“Let’s face it, paying attention to details and making sure the work is getting done are important — so it’s easy to chalk all of the above up to a necessary part of managing,” writes Harvard Business Review‘s Muriel Maignan Wilkins. “But they aren’t necessary all the time. The problem with micromanagers is that they apply the same level of intensity, scrutiny and in-your-face approach to every task, whether warranted or not.”

Here are seven signs you’re a micromanager yourself — and how to change your ways, according to the Harvard Business Review.

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1. You feel frustrated by how your employees are handling tasks.

If you’re feeling frustrated that you would have done tasks differently, it’s a good sign that you may be micromanaging your employee. You need to give your employee space to perform tasks in their own ways, so long as they’re getting the job done well and efficiently. If you see room for improvement, you can have a conversation with them, but you need to recognize that you’re way isn’t always necessarily the best way.

2. You’re constantly asking for updates.

If you’re always asking for updates on your employees’ status updates, it may be because you’re a micromanager.

“The bottom line is: You need to stop. It’s harming your team’s morale and — ultimately — their productivity,” Wilkins writes.

It’s best to set weekly or monthly meetings with your employees to make time to discuss their progress in a more constructive way. This way, they know it’s coming and it’ll motivate them to have progress to show you. And you know that it’s coming, so you won’t have to worry about keeping up to date all the time while you have bigger things with which to concern yourself.

3. You always ask to be CC’ed on emails.

If you’re always asking to be CC’ed on emails so you can keep track of your employees’ correspondences, it may be a sign that you’re micromanaging them. It’s best that you allow your employees room to breathe and send emails without you — so long as you don’t need to be on the email. This lets them know that you trust them, and trust builds employee motivation.

4. You never feel totally satisfied with your employees’ deliverables.

You may be a micromanager if you find that you’re never totally satisfied with your employees’ deliverables. If you’re not feeling satisfied with your employees’ work, you need to have constructive reviews with them on a regular basis. In these reviews, it’s important to not only focus on the negatives, but also reaffirm the positives, as well. This way, they can learn, grow and perform better to give you more optimal deliverables.

5. You always want to know what exactly your employees are working on.

It could be a sign that you’re a micromanager if you’re always wanting to no what your employees are up to. You should certainly be aware of what your employees are working on and make sure that they’re focused on their tasks at hand, but you will need to step back and also focus on your own work.

6. You take pride in making corrections.

Sure, corrections are necessary. But you don’t want to spend too much time breathing down your employees’ throats.

“While micromanaging may get you short-term results, over time it negatively impacts your team, your organization and yourself,” writes Wilkins. “You dilute your own productivity and you run out of capacity to get important things done. You stunt your team members’ development and demoralize them. You create an organizational vulnerability when your team isn’t used to functioning without your presence and heavy involvement.”

7. You’re always “down in the weeds.”

You’re always getting involved in the little details when you could (and should) be paying mind to higher-level issues. If you’re always watching over your employees’ shoulders, it means you’re seldom spending time working on the matters of more importance to you. So refocus your attention, and check in a lot less (or when necessary!).

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A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards and career advice.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever worked for a micromanager … or become one yourself? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog,, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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