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Stress Is Making You Micromanage, Which Is Making Everything Worse

Ask yourself these four questions to break the vicious cycle


Are you a micromanager? You will probably say no. Maybe you self-deprecatingly call yourself a “control freak.” Or just “hands-on.” You just “care too much.”

And it’s true: You do feel a certain need for a sense of control over your work. You are responsible, after all–perhaps more responsible than some of your coworkers or direct reports. You’re afraid of mistakes and believe that if something needs to be done well, you’d better do it yourself. But this isn’t just because you’re an “independent self-starter” who holds their work to a high standard. It might be that, too, but it’s probably also because you’re feeling stressed.


Take a moment to think about it, and you may start to notice all those signs of your conscientiousness as indicators of something a little less healthy. Maybe you get frustrated by employees not following your instructions. Or you feel anxious about missing out on information, so you attend every important meeting, even when you’re slammed. You even ask your team to reschedule if you can’t make it, rather than trusting them to represent you. And you want to be copied on emails all the time.

Work-related stress is a likely culprit. When you feel overwhelmed, you worry that you don’t have a good handle on things–so what do you do? You tighten your grip on everything. The first step to loosening it up (and reducing your own stress in the process) is simply recognizing the impact that your micromanaging is having. Think back over the past few months, and ask yourself these four questions:

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