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Signs of Micromanagement: How to Stop Being a Micromanaging Boss

For agency owners, being a micromanager seems like a natural response to someone making mistakes. But in the 21st century, isn’t this something we, as entrepreneurs, should avoid? Modern tools such as SPP make micromanagement a strategy of the past. Rather than forcing service operators to use an outdated management style, our software helps them grow their business fueled by autonomy.

Regardless of whether you’re just starting an agency business, or are running one for years, read on to see the signs of micromanagement clearly, and how to stop being a micromanaging boss.

What are common signs of micromanagement?

Micromanagers slip into a role of personally controlling and monitoring every task of something. This can be a place, a situation, a team, or a project.

Even though this practice can be useful at times, it comes with a variety of problems. From losing sight of the big picture to decreasing a team’s productivity, micromanagement is generally something leadership should avoid.

Another reason why micromanaging an agency team doesn’t make much sense is that many companies now rely on remote employees. Keeping tabs on employees with software does not boost their productivity, on the contrary. It makes them feel uncomfortable and anxious. Most people do not appreciate being micromanaged unless it’s absolutely necessary.

What constitutes a situation where micromanaging might be of use? In short bursts, a manager might keep a close eye on their new employees or contractors, for instance during onboarding. According to a study published in Harvard Business Review, managers need to learn when an employee needs help, and when to leave them to do their job. Learning to respect your team’s ability to work by themselves boost employee morale and allows you to work on more important tasks.

Now, let’s look at a few signs you might be micromanaging your team without realizing it.

1. You oversee every step

Agency owners who need to hit the approve button for every little task are not helping their team–on the contrary. Let your remote team take ownership of tasks, allow them to make mistakes, and learn from them.

Also, there’s a certain feeling of happiness when you check off a task list in SPP. If you’re not using tasks yet, you can set them up on a per-service basis.

2. Feedback is a moral lesson

There’s a fine line between constructive feedback or positive feedback, and giving someone a moral lesson. Unfortunately, not every agency owners takes the time to learn how to give each team member feedback in a way that it’s constructive. If you believe they did subpar work, you need to communicate it in a constructive way. To be able to do that, learn about your employees, how they think, how they work, and what they expect from your communication.

3. Creation of unnecessary direct reports

If daily stand-ups weren’t enough, your team also needs to send you a weekly report with charts and detailed explanations, then review it together with the entire team. Is that necessary? Most likely not, a bullet point list of the weekly tasks might be sufficient.

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Psychological effects of micromanagement

Many micromanagers are not aware that their actions have a negative effect on their employees. Sadly, the effects can lead to long-term issues for the entire company, as a study published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2011 reveals. People who believe to be watched for every task on their to-do list perform worse than their unwatched counterparts.

Psychological effects of micromanagement

In some cases, the micromanaging tendencies lead to burnout due to employees staying after hours to remain on top of their work. This should be a clear sign they are struggling to handle the tasks assigned—and a good manager should realize this.

Not only will these employees burn out at some point, nobody enjoys doing mundane tasks that bring little benefit to the agency. As an agency owner, you should create an environment where employees feel appreciated, but also don’t succumb to massive workloads that should be distributed among multiple workers.

Concrete examples of micromanagement

At this point it should be clear what a micromanager thinks. Let’s still look at a few specific examples of someone exhibiting their micromanager tendencies to make things crystal clear:

  • Asking for constant updates: Your manager or boss regularly sends a message on Slack asking for status updates. Is it done yet? How’s it going? A clear sign of an experienced micromanager at work.

  • No clear instructions: Micromanagers may look like they have everything under control, but they often ask impossible things of their employees without giving clear instructions. Instead, they think you can read their mind, and know exactly what they want.

  • Decision making is not allowed: Those looking to handle small decisions will hit a wall if they’re dealing with a micromanager. Even the smallest decision has to be greenlit, often causing delays and frustrations for the entire team.

  • The boss has to be in CC: I’ve seen how traditional agencies operate, and many of them have upwards of ten people (or more) in CC, one of them being the boss. They really need to be included in every communication, but do they really read everything?

  • Creativity takes a back seat: Some employees are naturally creative, such as designers. They need a certain level of freedom to express it, but a micromanager wouldn’t allow that. These employees feel like they have no power, and will not stick around long-term.

If all this sounds very familiar, it’s time to re-evaluate your role as a boss, and stop managing people in an authorative way.

5 ways to stop being a micromanager

Based on the signs and examples up until now, does it sound like you’re a micromanager? Don’t worry, we have prepared five ways micromanagers can end their force of habit below.

1. Use a project management tool

Project management is one of the most challenging aspects of running a service business. With so many working components necessary to ensure the timely deliverance of services, anything that can facilitate service completion without distracting staff is essential for success.

The SPP dashboard shows new orders automatically on your dashboard. You’ll also observe the progress of each order in real-time. This means any time a customer makes a payment, fills out a form, or sends a message, you’ll see everything that’s happening in one easily accessible location.

You can also customize the way you automatically request information. If you need some specific data from your client to complete an order, you can set a trigger that automatically sends a request for that information each time the service is ordered.

You’ll set parameters as well, allowing all or specific staff members to access this information. All of this is done automatically, meaning once you set the system to your preferences, you know your projects have a process in place to fulfil client orders without the need for stressful micromanagement processes.

2. Document all communications

Searching through thousands of emails for a single message is a hassle no one needs. Instead, SPP keeps all of your messages in a centralized location.

Each time your client receives a message in their order, they receive a notification via email. The client can then respond directly via email. But the correspondence is all documented in their order, meaning your team can message them back, and you can observe the back and forth communication.

over-communicate in orders

With this feature, you’ll have a clear history of who said what and when readily available to observe without disrupting the workflow. Thus, you’ll avoid having to reach out to your team any time you want some insight regarding how they’re interacting with your clients.

3. Auto-assign team members to orders

When you know one or more members of your team are rock stars at fulfilling certain types of orders, it makes sense to allocate those orders to those individuals. Here’s where managing your team with SPP can improve the quality of your services without forcing you to micromanage your staff’s actions.

For example, if you have someone excellent at writing long-form content, you’ll want to assign any long-form content orders to them automatically. You already know they’re going to fulfill the order properly. So this minimizes your need to micromanage by guaranteeing you’re delegating the tasks to the most suited person.

You set the roles for your team. Then, they’re assigned to fulfill specific orders that relate to their expertise. This results in the right orders getting assigned to the right person, and the orders are completed without the need to micromanage your team.

4. Monitor while avoiding micromanagement

Having SPP’s centralized system in place means you’re keeping the positive aspects of micromanagement while abandoning the features that can adversely impact your team. You still have control over operations, maintain accurate knowledge regarding your business, communicate effectively, and keep complex and custom operation reliable as they’re executed.

The client portal will rid you of the most common micromanagement problems, as well. You’ll have more time to focus on scaling your business without having to bother your employees. In turn, you’ll maintain employee trust.

Avoiding micromanagement means you’re avoiding burnouts. As a result, you’ll maintain skilled employee retention, adding value to your business as it scales.

Instead of breeding resentment in your business, you’re learning to depend on the valuable members of your team. And this is a scalable management style that can grow with your business.

5. Delegate and train employees

The art of delegating effectively should be learned by any agency owner if they want to micromanage less, free up more of their time, and focus on important tasks. Sadly, many agency owners lack delegation skills, and never learn how to stop doing everything themselves.

The reasons for that can be that the owner might not have had the best experience delegating tasks before, or that they simply think that their team cannot handle the tasks.

That being said, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • delegation skills need to be learned and earned

  • hire smart people who are able of handling your tasks

  • let them make mistakes, and learn from them

Once you follow these tips, you’ll be able to focus on important agency tasks, knowing that your team has your back.

Conclusion

There are many ways to grow an agency, but doing so through micromanagement isn’t an effective one. Even though being a micromanager can be beneficial in some instances, most of the time, it’s a managerial method characterized by damaged productivity and a lack of trust. With this being the case, making the switch to SPP is an easy choice.

At SPP, we’re helping our users manage their teams and clients without forcing them to resort to outdated practices. Instead, they use modern and effective management styles that demonstrate strong leadership. As a result, our clients are experiencing boosts in their efficiency, higher rates of skilled staff retention, and millions of dollars in projects being completed each month.

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