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Micromanagement: Not Just Bad for Business

Updated: Oct 9

In the business world, MICROMANAGEMENT is a dirty, nasty word. Micromanagement is the death of productivity, trust and morale - it thwarts innovation and employees’ growth. Successful leaders and managers know that the best way to delegate a task or to hand off ownership of a responsibility, is to steer clear of micromanagement. You set the end-goal, provide necessary information and let the new owner achieve the goal in their own way. Sure, they might not do it your way and the end result might not be 100% what you envisioned, but it gets done. The benefit is that by having someone else take it on, you give yourself time and energy to focus on your other priorities. There’s an added bonus if it is a repeatable task because the new owner will have the opportunity to continue to refine the process and, quite likely, get to a point where they are performing it better than you.


Yet at home, women all around the world (myself included) micromanage their partners to death. We give them grocery lists and then get frustrated when they buy the wrong brand or wrong type of tomato or made a poor substitution selection for an item that was out of stock. We ask them to handle dinner for the kids and are horrified when we find out they took them out for fast food or cooked up some…gulp…non-organic vegetables. We hand them a stack of school forms to be completed by end of week and then ask them EVERY DAY if they have completed the task. We slowly - or in some cases, very quickly - beat motivation, innovation, productivity and morale out of our partners. And then…


…we get angry when our partners don’t take on ownership of household & family management responsibilities. We wonder why they no longer go grocery shopping or why they are in a seemingly foul mood as they grab the list from our hands. We get irritated when they ask 50 questions about what to give the kids for dinner or, heaven forbid, call us when we finally have a night out with our girlfriends to ask, “What’s for dinner?”. And we don’t understand why we have to incessantly nag them in order for them to do what we asked them to do.


Micromanagement: Not Just Bad for Business

I can opening admit that I have been guilty of being a micromanager when it comes to household & family management responsibilities. How I came to realize I was a micromanager at home is a story for another day. Suffice it to say that I did become aware of the behavior and have worked very hard over the past couple of years to shift my behavior. The micromanager in me still rears its ugly head every so often, usually without my realizing it. Thankfully my partner has no qualms pointing out, “You’re micromanaging!” so that I can reign it back in.


Are you a micromanager at home? The likelihood of you knowing is slim since most micromanagers don’t know they are micromanagers. So, to help you determine if you are one, here is a nice little checklist for you to review from Muriel Maignan Wilkins’ Havard Business Review article “Signs That You’re a Micromanager”:


  • You’re never quite satisfied with deliverables.

  • You often feel frustrated because you would’ve gone about the task differently.

  • You laser in on the details and take great pride and /or pain in making corrections.

  • You constantly want to know where all your team members are and what they’re working on.

  • You ask for frequent updates on where things stand.

  • You prefer to be cc’d on emails.


If you have identified that you are one (reminder: there is absolutely no judgement here), why not commit, right now, to start shifting your behavior? Pick one of the household & family responsibilities that you own, preferably one that you aren’t too concerned with, and hand it off to your partner. Ask if he or she would be willing to take on full ownership and, once agreed to, go ahead and actually, for realsies give him or her ownership. Give him or her the gift of being able to step in to household & family management. And when he or she has attained the end-goal, give a nice, big, heartfelt, “THANK YOU!” I know it’s hard to relinquish that control…but I promise, in the end it will be worth it.


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