Three Reasons You Might Be A Micromanager, and How To Stop It From Hurting Your Career

Executive Coaching in Chicago and New York | Christina HollowayIf you’ve ever worked for someone who obsessively micromanages, then you know firsthand just how counter-productive it can be. Whether it’s in the form of countless unnecessary reports, never-ending meetings, or required briefings for every single customer contact, excessive micromanagement disrupts the work flow and often demoralizes employees, all while adding minimal (if any) value to the situation.

Almost all of us have had an experience with being micromanaged, yet very few of us want to confront the guilty parties. Why? Well, of course we’re worried about what it might mean for our working relationships, but there’s more to it than just that. Deep down, we know that our bosses don’t intend to come across as micromanagers. After all, none of us get out of bed in the morning with a desire to be seen as annoying or overbearing. However, that doesn’t stop us from becoming annoying and overbearing, especially when our job is on the line. Here are three of the most common reasons that people micromanage, and how they can be addressed.

Lack of Knowledge

The problem:

Imagine you’ve just received a promotion. Great, right? Only what if it involves being placed in a new department, overseeing people, processes, and products that you’re not very familiar with? Everyone else in the department might know exactly what they’re doing, but if you don’t, you’ll have a tendency to overcompensate by demanding excessive details from your new team.

The fix:

To get up to speed quickly, you need to form an alliance with someone who already knows their way around. Ideally, this person is trustworthy, expert at their position, and looking to prove themselves as an employee. Instead of executive coaching, you can think of this like executive mentoring.

Inadequate Training

The problem:

Picture this: you’re the proud owner of a promising new startup, but you’ve had no formal business training or executive coaching. When it comes to getting the job done to your standard, you have trouble delegating effectively and trusting your employees.

The fix:

Get your solutions, processes, and policies on paper. Once you have these things documented, you’ll be able to communicate them more clearly to the people you work with, as well as have a reference for your expectations. Once you’ve got those things, you’ll be free to loosen the reins a bit.

Insufficient Experience

The problem:

You’re trusted and respected and have a reputation for getting the job done right. Normally, those things don’t amount to a problem, but they can when it leads to you being placed in a position that you’re not prepared for.  If you’re suddenly being asked to do things that you’re not entirely comfortable with, like heading up a project, telling people what to do, or taking responsibility for other people’s results, you might end up drowning in the details.

The fix:

You should partner with  a mentor, get some executive coaching, or otherwise find a way to capitalize on the experience of somebody who has been in your shoes before. By de-stressing and looking for solutions to the bigger issue (being unqualified for the job), you’ll rise above the temptation to get it all done yourself. 

Choosing to Let Micromanagement Benefit You

There can be a wide variety of situations in which people become guilty of counter-productive micromanagement. Often, it’s simply the product of trying to ensure that the job gets done right. Sometimes, we’re not even aware of how excessive we’re being, but when we do, there’s usually a way forward. First, we need to take a deep breath and consider how we’re approaching the situation at hand; looking at it as an inconvenience will only feed the anxiety that makes us micromanage in the first place. If instead, we see it as a chance to build on strengths and test our mettle, then the tendency to micromanage can actually be a starting point for new growth in our careers.

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Christina Holloway