There is an evil villain that lurks in many workplaces today. Often times he/she can be found hiding in the shadows watching your every move, checking up on you and waiting for the prime time to pounce! Worse yet this villain often times does not hide at all but is right out in the open for all to see and often we feel powerless to do anything to stop him/her. Who is this age-old villain I speak of in the workplace……. it’s………………MICROMANAGER!!!!
Some would say that occasionally micromanaging is needed. This would be true with a new Team Member or someone venturing into an area they have not encountered before. Otherwise a true Leader never has to micromanage because he/she knows the Team and each ones unique abilities and therefore assigns tasks to each one accordingly. Thus, the true Leader can trust the Team Member will move forward and succeed or at least the Leader knows that he/she and the Team Member have an open line of communication to the point the Team Member feels free to come and ask for help. No need for the Leader to be constantly checking in or making suggestions. He/She knows that the project will be done correctly and has already set up times to come together with the Team Member to discuss their progress and/or roadblocks they have encountered.
Are you wondering if you might be the villain, MICROMANAGER? Is your Leader the villain MICROMANAGER?
Here are some symptoms that can be observed in those who are micromanaging:
- They appear frustrated that nobody is “getting it” or taking things as seriously as they do.
- They want frequent status updates, even when things are operating normally.
- They are quick to point out errors and mistakes of Team Members.
- They have an overloaded task list, but their teams are looking for things to do.
- They get upset if they’re not consulted before decisions are made.
- They’ll take back delegated tasks to do them quicker or better themselves.
- They assign a task and then go out first and do the task they assigned to someone else
- They show up unannounced and often change directions you have given your team
- Take a critical look at your own performance. Is there anything you are doing that is adding to the problem? Self-identified micromanagers often claim that they wouldn’t have to micromanage if their people would just do what they were supposed to do. It may not fix the problem, but delivering your best may give you a little more breathing room.
- Play by their rules. Admittedly, spending your day requesting permission for every action, justifying every decision or rewriting every sentence is not productive. However, fighting it will be even less so. Figure out the hot buttons, pet peeves and sticking points and try to abide. Sadly this may mean spending more time on the non-value-added appeasing tasks, but if you can streamline them, you may be able to create a workable relationship.
- Try not to take it to heart. Assuming your work is sound, try not to let the constant nit-picking affect your self-confidence. The problem is the manager’s, not yours.
- Talk to them about their behavior. You may want to attempt a frank, but respectful discussion with the Leader about the issue. Come prepared with recent examples and ideas for how you can work better together. Be aware though, that they may be unable to recognize that their behavior is problematic and their inherent lack of trust may create a contentious discussion.
- Take it up with a “higher authority” Often this approach may end up doing more harm than good. At the very heart of micromanagement is a lack of trust, and going over the Leader’s head, potentially making him/her look bad is a cardinal sin in the eyes of this type of Leader. Although it may buy some momentary relief, chances are you will suffer in the long run.
- Leave the organization. This option may be the only choice in some situations. Assume your Leader is not going to leave. If you find that your work, your family and most likely your health and well-being are suffering because of a work situation that has become intolerable, looking for a better job may be the best thing you could do for yourself and your long-term career. Ultimately, you are in control of your own future and can make the decision to leave for greener pastures.