Why Over-Managing by Leaders Is Driving Their Team Nuts


If there is one thing that seems to drive employees crazy, it's when they get over-managed.

I have managed many people, and have been managed by many more, so I've seen it from both sides. But as an employee -- and unless you are the CEO (or perhaps the Board Chair) -- you're probably being managed by somebody.

And as you probably know, dealing with over-managing or micromanaging are part of your everyday working life.

Here's what is driving your team nuts

Jesse Lyn Stoner, who works with Ken Blanchard (author of The One Minute Manager) and is a business consultant, recently blogged about Why You Over-Manage, Under-Manage, or Sometimes Do Both. Her list of how people over-manage touched a nerve with me, as it may with you.

  • They’re frustrated because they never know when you’re going to swoop in and change things.
  • They are waiting for you to provide information or make a decision and projects get stalled.
  • They’re afraid to make a decision because you might not approve.
  • They’ve lost confidence in their own judgment.
  • They’ve stopped thinking because they’ve grown dependent on you to think for them.
  • They’re dreaming of working somewhere else.

This is a pretty good list, although I'm sure you can probably add a few more signs of over-management to it.

Bottom line: This isn't what good leaders do. If you want to build a high-functioning team, all of these points are the very things that will stand in the way of you doing that,

Workplace stress

Quit treating employees like you're their parent

Jesse Lyn Stoner agrees, and she says that smart managers and leaders need to do this:

Stop thinking like a parent, and treat your team like the adults they are. They’ve been passengers in your car. Stop thinking of it as your car, let them drive, and don’t be a backseat driver.

Find out what they need from you to complete the job. Ask and listen. Share your own thoughts, and then decide together where you’ll be involved and how.

Your job is to make sure they have the resources they need, to provide the information they need, and to be available when they need your help or advice. Often they simply need you to be a sounding board. When you ask questions instead of giving answers, you help them develop their ability to solve problems without being dependent on you.

Getting people to think for themselves

My take: Managing is hard, but good managers can make it look easy. That's why so many people get into management who have no business being there -- because they think it's easy.

Stoner makes it clear that treating your employees like adults and giving them the ability to step up and solve their own problems not only builds self-sufficiency in your team but also extends your reach as a manager.

The more people you have who can think for themselves, the more you can accomplish. And the more you accomplish, the better off your organization will be.

That's the basic formula for Management 101, but it requires the leader to trust and let go. Are you the kind of leader who is able to do that?

Editor’s Note: The Talent Insider blog is fueled by Checkster, and Checkster has great tools — like the Reference Checkup, the Interview Checkup, and the 360 Checkup — that can help you make better talent decisions as you grow a diverse and skilled team.