3 Signs You’re Micromanaging Your Church Staff

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October 19, 2017

3 Signs You’re Micromanaging Your Church Staff


Editor’s Note: Enjoy this read on micromanaging by author Aaron Burr. We did! Reposted with kind permission of Breeze.

If there is one thing none of us wants to be called it’s a micromanager.

We hate being micromanaged and can’t stand the idea of being identified as one. And yet, because we care deeply about the work that we’ve been called to do, most of us are at least somewhat guilty of micromanaging. I know I have my moments.

So, how do you know if you’re a micromanager? Here are three signs:

“Only I Can Do This”

There have been times when I’ve told myself that only I can complete a specific task or that only I can fill a role. What I’ve learned over time is that while I may be more gifted or have more experience in certain roles or tasks, the notion that only I can do them is a sign that I’m micromanaging.

More specifically, it’s a sign that I’m not developing my team like I should.

It is true that developing skills in others takes time and patience but it is usually worth the effort because elevating your team will make you and everyone around you more effective. Micromanagers control tasks while leaders empower people.

“I Can’t Afford to Rest”

Another sign that you might be a micromanager is an unwillingness to rest.

I once worked with an incredibly talented co-worker who worked way too much. At first I thought he just loved his job but over time I came to understand that he didn’t trust anyone else to do the work. This lack of trust led him to work an unhealthy amount of hours, working in the evening at home, working on days off and essentially never taking a vacation.

If you find yourself in this place, you probably tell yourself that the work is too important or that you have too much to do but the truth is that you’re probably refusing to entrust others with the work.

If this is you, it’s time to start empowering others so that you can discover a sustainable work rhythm.

“I Have to Fix This”

If you’ve ever found yourself swooping in to rescue a project or a task, you’re probably a micromanager.

Again, this is a sign that you’re elevating tasks over people.

I have a management mentor who sometimes reminds me that managing people is sort of like parenting children. When we are training employees in a new task it’s not going to be painless. It can be likened to teaching a 1 year old to eat with a spoon instead of feeding them. It’s probably going to be a little messy and you’re going to want to take the spoon away and do it yourself about 400 times during the meal but unless you let them fail you’re going to be doing their work for them for years.

Photo credit: Matt Preston via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

A tough lesson I’ve learned is that it’s better to let an employee fail and learn than swoop in and fix the situation.

Right about now you might be thinking, I can’t believe it… I’M A MICROMANAGER! Fear not! You don’t have to be, this is correctable. Here’s a few thoughts on how to move from away from micromanaging and toward empowering leadership.

1. Invite a Referee

If you’re noticing trends of micromanaging in your leadership style, invite a trusted co-worker to call you on it. Ask them to throw the flag on your micromanaging fouls! Preferably, not in the moment but after the fact.
If you’re like me, you need help from others understanding how your actions and words impact others. It can be incredibly helpful when others point out for you what you cannot see yourself.

2. Give Feedback After Instead of Instructions Before

One simple change in your leadership style can make a huge difference. Instead of giving detailed instructions on exactly what you want before assigning a task, choose to give minimal instruction and instead provide accurate and actionable feedback after the task is completed.

This will empower your employee to figure out how to do the task on their own which promotes creativity and ownership. By providing feedback at the end, you’ll help your employee understand how to complete the task with more efficiency and effectiveness the next time around.

3. Start Smallish

If you’re a leader who struggles with micromanaging, start small with delegation. Instead of delegating next weekend’s sermon, start with something you aren’t quite as passionate about. However, don’t start too small because delegating mundane and trivial tasks can feel demeaning. Find a task or role that is significant but not your “precious” if you know what I mean. Think baby steps.

Wrap Up

Let’s wrap this up.

Micromanaging is a significant issue for us because as leaders, God has called us to equip the saints for ministry. Click To Tweet When we control everything we rob people of opportunities to exercise their gifts and grow in their abilities. And, practically speaking, we bottleneck the workflow.

I assure you that others can do what you do if you take the time to develop and empower them. And there can be great joy in watching people that you have trained flourish in the work that God has called them to.

If you have any thoughts or tips on moving out of micromanagement and toward empowering leadership, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment below.

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