Micro-Managers are not just egotistical jerks (ok, some are).
The easiest thing in the world is to accuse known or obvious micro-managers of doing so simply to make your life difficult. Many of us feel that they do these things merely to irritate those on their staff, knowing that those same staffs are competent and trustworthy.
In other words, they do it on purpose, since they’re jerks.
Well, maybe. There are certainly some jerks in the micro-management world. As there are in most every other category or label of management. But here’s the rub: most micro-managers seem like a jerk to others merely because they micro-manage; they may be nothing of the kind, though they simply seem that way because they are always “in our business.”
I’ve recently had a couple of clients resort to “micromanagement” during some tough economic times. I know these executives; they are smart, on-the-ball, and savvy about their business and their people. My conversations with them surrounded the dangers of that micromanagement, and why that might be the precisely wrong move.
The dangers to me are straightforward: in times of economic scrutiny, we need employees to be thinking MORE, not less. A controlling environment may aid in the immediate task at hand, but from a downside, it also:
- Limits an employee’s growth, and subsequently their inherent ability to “do more (presumably ‘with less’).”
- Micro-managing, to be effective, consumes an inordinate amount of management’s time; effectively empowered employees (don’t get lost w/the fad word, just the concept) free up a manager’s time to think and contribute — presumably at a higher level of value.
- Micro-managing frequently over-tasks managers unaccustomed to it. In an effort to “touch” everything, they become micro-MEDDLERS instead, interjecting just enough to cause chaos and confusion, then flitting off to the next victim.
Counter-intuitively, micromanaging provides less reaction to turbulent times instead of more, burns out managers, and frustrates employees. Better to constrict existing parameters at reasonable level, such as spending levels and authorities, and micro-manage by exception in those few areas (or with those few people) who need it.
I can tell you with certainty that managers prone to micromanaging anyway will feel vindicated, and that “this is THEIR time” to shine. It’s not… quite the opposite.
Well, then, why do they do that?
It’s been my experience that micro-managers do so from need. At least in their minds, they feel they have a need for acute attention to detail in one or more functions, or with one or more (or all) members of their staffs. From my experience, the underlying reasons driving this perceived need come from:
- Real or perceived lack of competency. Your boss may not believe you are as proficient as you think you are. Whouldathunkit, eh? There’s a reason behind that feeling, though, and you’ll need to find it if you’re to overcome that unspoken premise.
- Real or perceived lack of trust. In either direction. Your boss may not trust you for some reason, or may not believe that you trust him/her. Either reason puts trust at the forefront, and to get past it, we’ve got to build trust in a more positive fashion.
Overdeveloped personal ego. Yes, this does show up as a reason – but not nearly as frequent as most tend to believe. Realize that most people, inherently, want to achieve the same results with less efforts, and micro-managing takes MORE effort, not less. So, though “ego” does show up as a reason for micro-management, it’s about 1 in 10, according to my experience. The anomaly, not the norm.
Eradicating micro-managing is the responsibility of both parties – the staff member or manager, and the senior manager “doing” the micro-managing.
Spend less time assigning blame (on both parts), and more time creating a solution.