Micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes or controls the work of subordinates or employees. Micromanagement generally has a negative connotation.
Micromanagement often brings frustration, discomfort, and overall less efficiency within a team. It is something I strongly advise against doing, and hopefully this article can help you be aware if you have micromanagement tendencies, or even spot some of your colleagues.
Signs of a micromanager
Here below are but a few of the signs that can help you identify micromanagement:
Need to control everything
One of the top signs of micromanagement is the obsessive need to know/control everything. You feel like you need to be omnipresent and whatever details you are missing are considered failure or unacceptable.
This results in asking too many status reports from the team, constantly calling/emailing them for an update, and having no regards to disturbing people to find out whatever you think you need to know.
Behind your shoulder
When expecting a certain delivery and the due date is close, you may notice some people literally standing behind the person working, and simply waiting for that person to finish, even if it was clearly communicated that more than 5-10 minutes are needed.
Not only does this person annoy his colleague and frustrates him, but while he just stands there waiting, he is not doing anything productive and wasting precious time.
Someone who needs to control everything will have a tendency to keep the work to himself since it’s easier to control and make sure it’s one ‘his way’. However, when he does delegate, he will dictate exactly how to do it, and if the colleague takes any liberty outside the directions, than the micromanager will tell him to adjust the work or take it back and adjust himself.
Lack of trust
If the micromanager does not trust the people he works with, either because it is justified or because he thinks he is superior to everyone, than the lack of trust it brings will make him act the way he does.
Because of another micromanager
Sometimes, thee micromanager is actually the one pulling the strings behind, and someone else if doing the micromanagement.
The micromanager hides in plain sight while having someone else take the fall. This can be a very uncomfortable position for the person stuck doing the work. I speak from experience here, believe me!
Obsessive need to control
Some people just have his need to control everything, regardless of what’s going on and with whom they are working. If they don’t control everything, they feel they are not doing their job correctly.
There are a few habits that you can develop that can help you with a micromanager:
Reports: Since they need to feel in control all the time, they feel the need to know everything that is going on, therefore, sending regular status reports (more than you normally would) or constantly adding him in ‘cc’ on mails will satisfy that need, and avoid having him over your shoulder to find out what’s happening.
Stick to your commitments: If you stick to your commitments, from delivering work to status reports on time, this will make you reliable to the micromanager, and the added trust this will give him will diminish his need to control you.
Surround yourself with great people: If you feel you are guilty about not trusting the people you work with, and assuming it’s justified, than it’s time you make a change and surround yourself with a team that delivers and you may find your micromanagement days going away.
Talk to him: This depends on the role you have versus the micromanager’s role, but talking one on one may help clarify a lot of things. Communication is the key, right? You may find out why he is acting that way, or you may make him aware of his behavior; you never know until you have a real open conversation.
Micromanagement is a type of management that needs to be avoided, whether you are guilty of it, or a colleague is, do your best to fix it.
Have you ever worked with a micromanager? Share your story!