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Micromanaging – reason why all the good staff run for the hills



In my working life I have met different types of managers. Those who support their staff and want only the best for their crew and those who have to have their fingers in each pie and control everything that goes on in the company. Needless to say, those who guide and lead their staff and trust them to get their work done, are the ones, who are always admired and remembered. They are the ones who inspire us on our journey throughout our careers. Those who want to know what you did every minute of the day are forgotten as soon as you walk out of the door or should I say run out of the door.


My recent experience with a micromanager saw me having a meeting with a manager in the morning where we discussed my task list and two hours after the meeting, she sent me a long email on what I needed to do. I mean, we just met two hours ago and went through a list of things and it probably took her half an hour to write that email and for me to answer so I really saw no point in that other than wanting to show who was in charge and make me doubt if I knew what I was doing. We had already discussed everything so the email was a bit excessive and waste of everyone’s time.

Every time I come face to face with a manager who is a micromanager, I wonder what has gone on in their lives to behave like that? The other question that pops into my mind - do they like to be controlled themselves?


[i]Micromanagement is a compulsive, behavioural disorder similar to other addictive patterns. People who micromanage, generally do so because they feel unsure and self-doubting. Micromanagers, like many addicts, are the last people to recognise that they are hooked on trolling others.

Often they fear competition from their colleagues and staff who are smart, talented and more knowledgeable and therefore hire people who they can model into someone who will only take direction from them. That gives micromanagers power and makes them feel more confident and in control of everything.


Micromanagers are known to wanting to see your detailed task lists and regular updates. They require every decision to be run past them and every document to be approved and they want to know where you are every minute of your working day. Micromanagers send frequent emails and hold many unnecessary meetings. They often take credit for anything positive that has come out of the team but blame individuals if things do not go so well. Micromanagers find hard to trust people deliver work on time and to their standards so they often interfere with the process and therefore create extra work that is really not necessary.


Many of us have worked with a micromanager at some point in our lives and know how damaging this can be for one’s productivity and morale. Staff want to be part of the company, they want to make contributions that they get credit for, they want to feel empowered and guided and have an opportunity to learn, not be afraid and question their own actions all the time. Under a micromanager, one can never succeed. Eventually one feels like a puppet whose strings are controlled and the need to cut themselves loose to find a workplace where they are valued and supported.


When I attend a job interview, one of my questions to the hiring manager is asking them to describe what kind of managers they are. Obviously, no one will tell me the truth but that does not stop me from trying. What I am looking for in a manager or even when I work with the manager as my client, is someone who hires talented and smart people. People who they trust will do a great job. And if they do not trust their staff is competent enough, they should not have them in their company. There is no need to hire staff you don’t trust and therefore need to control. Afterall, the business is always growing and if you have smart people who support you, your business will be thriving. If you hire people who need constant hand holding because you do not trust they are capable of performing their roles, you struggle to succeed as a manager.


Employees nowadays want a boss they can trust, someone who listens to them and praises them when they do well and provides guidance or gives subtle directions when they lose track. Great manager wants to see their staff go far and he/she helps them to get there. In return he/she knows the staff will have its back and work hard to meet the goals set for the company and the manager.


Do you have tendencies to control too much how your staff or your team is working? Do you have a problem letting things go and trusting people? Please do us all a favour and calm down. Keep your eye on your goals. Have weekly, monthly catch ups with your employees or your partners and communicate well what your expectations are. If your staff gets stuck, give them some of your time to provide them with solutions and guidance. When you get praised for doing a great job, share the win with your team, when you get blamed for not doing the good job, have a chat with your team and find a way to collegially improve things. Always be grateful and thank your staff and/or your partners. That way they feel rewarded and want to do even better. Be a leader to whom your staff look up to!

[i] http://homepages.se.edu/cvonbergen/files/2012/12/The-Micromanagement-Disease_Symptoms-Diagnosis-and-Cure.pdf

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