No-one likes to think of themselves as a ‘control freak’ and most people will shy away from admitting that they are. Control freaks love it when they are in control but everyone else has a hard time working for them. Sadly, people who enjoy control also enjoy positions of power and they tend to end up getting promoted.
People enjoy control for all sorts of reasons. It could be that they are not able to fully let go and trust others to do tasks as well as them. The problem is you cannot do everything yourself and delegation is a skill that needs to be mastered and practiced. It’s true that control freaks get stuff done, but it’s usually because they have held onto all the tasks for themselves, or perhaps delegated a task and then micromanaged it to the nth degree.
If you think there is a chance that you are a control freak and you cannot really let go of things, why not ask the people who work for you? Solicit their honest opinions about the experience of working with you and then commit to yourself to take some action – because if you receive a lot of developmental feedback then it’s an opportunity to make some changes to how you work.
Sometimes a person acts as a control freak because there is a lack of clarity in terms of the strategy or outcomes being pursued – so they think everything needs to be done at once and that no-one else will do things as fast and accurately as they can. If you find yourself acting like this then its time to take stock and create a sensible plan, with priorities, about what needs to be done and by whom.
Take care not to exert so much control that you become the bottleneck of progress. We all know managers who must check and sign off everything before things can move forward. Big piles of paperwork and dozens of unread emails are a sign that you have taken on too much ‘control’ and need to consider delegating more responsibility and authority.
When you work with good people, if you exert too much control over them, you stifle their creativity, motivation and enthusiasm for success, because they feel that any success is yours and not theirs. Allow them to breathe; good people don’t need to be told exactly what to do and how to do it every 5 minutes.
The final problem with you being a control freak is that you are never actually ‘off work’. You can’t enjoy your holidays or leave without checking emails, phoning in and bothering people day-in day-out because you cannot let go. If you find yourself doing this then you are probably a control freak.
Let go, trust those in your team and watch them blossom.