Dylan Miller in Directors and Executives, Entrepreneurs, Marketing Marketing Executive & Strategist Consultant • Strategise Nov 4, 2019 · 4 min read · 5.1K

Are You a Control Freak in the Workplace?

Are You a Control Freak in the Workplace?

There’s nothing worse than working for someone who only sees the negative. When you do great work, it’s ignored. But when you make a mistake or somehow fall short of expectations (even completely unreasonable ones), you’re criticised. It feels so unfair - Right?

Yes, of course, life isn’t fair—and neither is the workplace. So we have to learn to deal with all kinds of difficult personalities as in; the perfectionist which could be substituted as a control freak, procrastinator, micro-manager and the list goes on and on......

So what makes a control freak tick?

After a little research, I’ve discovered that most control issues stem from a few things. See if any of the following statements ring true for you:

  • I have incredibly high standards and I don’t trust others to uphold them.
  • I have high anxiety and taking a leadership role makes me feel more comfortable and calm.
  • I have a fear of disorganisation, failure, and chaos. If I’m in control and bad things happen, it’s my own fault. And I trust myself more than others to keep the bad stuff away.
  • I have a love of the spotlight. By taking control, I often get all the credit or appreciation for a job well done.
  • I have a big ego. I like to be in a position to show off my skills.
  • I like to feel needed. Being the one in control makes my presence seem more important.

It’s also pretty easy to see that these issues might cause some problems at some stage.

Here's why

  • It can cause you an extraordinary amount of emotional, mental and physical stress.

Most of the time, it’s completely unnecessary. When we always feel like we have to be in control of the world around us every second of every day, we’re adding a tremendous amount of pressure to our lives. We do it to ourselves and it’s just not healthy.

  • It can seriously damage your business and personal relationships.

When you try to control every situation, even if it’s not your intention, others start to worry that you don’t trust them. They also get sick of following your lead. You may notice colleagues, friends, and even family starting to pull away from you, getting irritated or exasperated. Or perhaps they’ve simply given up and accepted that you’re the one who gets control. That’s not really fair to them and, ultimately, they could end up resenting you for it.

So, what can I do to change?

If you’re a control freak. I have a few suggestions. They’re not all easy to do, but if you’re dedicated to making a change, this is a great place to start.

  • Let go of your ego. Take yourself down a notch. You’re great, but so are others. You have to share the spotlight and let others use their skills. Believe it or not, you’re not the best at everything.
  • Delegate to others. Start small. Train people how to do things if they aren’t familiar. See what it feels like to rely on others to do the work. And enjoy how good it feels to watch them blossom with the added confidence you’ve shown in them.
  • Acknowledge that you can’t control everything. Give yourself a break and learn to go with the flow now and again. Once you see that everything works out just fine without your intervention, you’ll get more comfortable with the idea.
  • Make a conscious decision to completely give up control in one small area of your life. Maybe you’ll let others decide what’s for lunch and then maybe you’ll let the responsible staff members take control of their project. Maybe you’ll just take a walk without knowing where you’re going. Whatever you choose, let the circumstances and people around you take the lead. Bite your tongue, sit back and relax. You’re a passenger. Enjoy the view.

Is a control freak all bad?

Now, it’s worth mentioning that control isn’t always a horrible thing. It’s wonderful to take control at times, show off your leadership abilities and your decisive point-of-view. But there’s a point where it goes too far. Put yourself in check regularly. And, if you’re constantly being told that you’re a control freak, don’t just write it off as an inescapable character trait. Take a few proactive steps to share the spotlight and hand the reins to someone else. Everyone, even you, will be better for it!

Here's 5 proactive reasons to change - a 5-Step approach.

Are you being proactive or reactive in the workplace?

Certainly, there are times when it’s appropriate to be reactive. We have plenty of decisions to make in-the-moment. There are times when we need to be flexible and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. There are times when long-term plans must be abandoned in order to meet immediate needs. And there will always be those unavoidable roadblocks that even the most proactive person in the world would not have been able to foresee or avoid.

However, the ability to be proactive provides a clear advantage in the workplace and most managers expect staff members to demonstrate a proactive mentality.

Step 1: Predict

In order to be proactive, you must first develop foresight! (a good book to read about this in-depth is Foresight by John Sanei. You will love it!

Proactive people are rarely caught by surprise. Learn to anticipate problems and events. Understand how things work; look for patterns and connect the dots; recognise the regular routines, daily practices and natural cycles that exist in your business. At the same time, don’t allow yourself to become complacent. Use your imagination when anticipating future outcomes. Don’t simply expect the past to always be an accurate predictor for the future (it can't as we are living in a progressive and rapidly changing world right now); use your creativity and logic. Come up with multiple scenarios for how events could unfold. Proactive people are always on their toes.

Step 2: Prevent

Proactive people foresee potential obstacles and exert their power to find ways to overcome them before those obstacles turn into concrete roadblocks.

They prevent problems that others would simply look back on in hindsight and claim as being unavoidable. Don’t allow yourself to get swept up in a feeling of powerlessness. When challenges approach, take control and confront them head-on before they grow into overwhelming problems.

Step3: Plan

Proactive people plan for the future!

Avoid “here and now” thinking and instead, look ahead and anticipate long-term consequences. Bring the future into the present; what can you do today to ensure success tomorrow? Don’t make decisions in a vacuum; every decision is a link in a chain of events leading to one final conclusion. In order to make the best decision, you have to know where you came from, where you are, and where you want to end up.

Step 4: Participate

Proactive people are not idle observers, they are active participants.

In order to be proactive, you must get involved. You have to take initiative and be a part of the solution. Recognise that you are only a piece of the whole and that you influence—and are influenced by—the actions of others. Don’t simply react to them. Engage with them. Exert your influence and make a contribution.

Step 5: Perform

Being proactive means taking timely, effective action.

You must be decisive and willing to do the work NOW. Procrastination is not an option. Take ownership of your performance and hold yourself accountable. Stand behind your decisions. Being proactive means you have taken careful, thoughtful steps to choose the appropriate path; you’re not just reacting impulsively to your environment.

There you have it, being a control freak isn't all bad, if you hone in your skills and learn to let go but work on being proactive, you will not only be a better leader but your organisation will achieve great things with you driving it to success!