Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines micromanagement as “management, especially with excessive control or attention on details”. Dictionary.com defines micromanagement as “management or control with excessive attention to minor details”.
Still can’t decide if your manager is a micromanager, here are some signs. Does your manager resist delegating, immerse themselves in overseeing the projects of others, correct tiny details and not focusing on the big picture, take back work that was assigned because they found a mistake in it, constantly quote, “If you want anything done right you need to do it yourself.” In this blog we will not only define the signs and what to do if your boss is a micromanager but will delve into what makes them so.
Professional managers map out the vision and provide the tools to get the task done. They then step back and become a facilitator if needed. Micromanagers dictate every aspect of the project.
Most micromanagers have an insecurity about their own performance. They feel intimidated by their employee. They poses trust issues, not allowing them to empower others. So how is this behavior learned?
It could be a personality trait derived from one of the Five Factor Model dimensions known as Conscientiousness but put on steroids. Behavior traits of conscientious people are organized, vigilant, self-discipline and a desire to get a job done well. A micromanager possess all these traits but takes them to the extreme. Another reason might be what is known as the, bullying behavior. Most managers who possess the bullying behavior are often in a position of power and always have a target. What is the target? A Sharp, well-liked, and successful employee. Bullying behavior is intentional and directive to cause hurt and distress to the targeted employee. Managers with this behavior will make sure that no one ever calls their bluff and will work diligently to clear out anyone that attempt to do so. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), not OCD could be another factor. A manager characterized with OCPD usually is preoccupied with details, list, rules, order, organization and schedules, losing sight of the required task or project. When rules and procedures are not in place a manager may have difficulty deciding which task takes priority and they may never get started or delayed, project deadlines start to creep. One of the most dominate displays of this behavior is that of authority. They display excessive deference level of authority to a respected peer as one they do not respect.
So how do these traits come about? Any extreme behavior is a powerful indicator that a certain psychological imbalance exists in a person’s psyche. They are usually learned in the manager’s upbringing environment. They learn from either a parental influence or a life event making them somehow feel inferior. Then as an adult they overcompensate for these feelings and try to become a perfectionist. This is known as “identifying with the aggressor”. A need to feel superior or a fear of abandonment may be a factor as to why the manager needs to be in control. A sign of weakness, control or be controlled. In summation a controlling manager is one who fears. Fear of their own performance. They are so insecure and full of anxiety the only way they can feel comfortable if they take complete control of the task or project.
What are the risk of being a micromanager? Most Micromanagers do not recognize these traits in themselves and would probably consider themselves as good managers who have a firm grip on their staff. Conversely, errors made by the micromanager are overlooked or minimized. This is one of the deadly sins of a micromanager and to the organization. The employer’s staff are the ones whom suffer the most causing a devastating ripple effect throughout the organization, low morale in the workforce, performance issues, growth in the organization, and lastly turn over.
So, how do you deal with a micromanager? As for the person or persons being micromanaged, recognition is the key. Then try to understand what causes someone to act this way. So, reread the preceding paragraph of this blog. Anticipate their needs. Look for potential problems and correct them, as little or non-important they may seem, they are flares to a micromanager. Micromanager are very predictable, so use stay ahead of the game tactics. Be accountable, remember micromanagers have trust issues so become the employee of the month. Make sure you communicate with your manager, keep them in the loop. Remember they need to know every little detail, this will lessen their anxiety and stop the endless bombardment of emails. And lastly, if you dare, give feedback. Gentle feedback of course or this will have a more controlling effect on a negative situation.
Truth be told micromanagers are hard to get rid of. One of the main reasons is because they are well liked and connected. Most often the culture of the organization will embrace and praise this type of behavior, sighting all the great work this person has accomplished. This just sets up a black hole effect where everyone eventually gets sucked in. Then the only recourse of action is to remove the micromanager. Employees are the cornerstone of a successful organizations. Organization’s need to recognize micromanagement, it is crucial that this situation be dealt with accordingly in a reasonable and professional amount of time. Staff turnover, lower productivity, poor attitudes and loss of enthusiasm for their jobs, all result from staff who are worn down by micromanagement.