Dude, Stop Micromanaging
You’re destroying your company by doing this…
You like it done your own way. Or maybe you have a very specific image in mind. Is it possible that you’re not even sure what you want, but you know you don’t want that? It might be time for a little sit down and a chat.
It turns out you’re a micromanager. And you’re not helping your company. At all.
Micromanaging is a dangerous disease, one which will result in your employees feeling worried that their ideas won’t meet your standards.
They’ll show you their work, and you uncontrollably take the laptop and begin editing their PowerPoint until it’s an entirely new piece of work. Oops. You’ve asked your team to carry out a new business plan in the office this week.
It is taking them a lifetime because they have to check in with you before making any decisions. Deadlines have been missed as a result. And now, it’s time for some change.
Many people worry that they are a micromanager. If this is the case, they’re probably giving unhelpful (and untimely) feedback to your colleagues/employees, trying to take ownership over their work, and ordering rather than asking for certain requirements.
The problems with this approach are obvious. It leaves the office space feeling inflexible, and the high-pressure environment that it creates is unhealthy.
Instead, asking employees to carry out tasks, as well as giving constructive criticism and allowing your colleagues to take ownership of their own work will allow you to transform into a coach rather than a controlling, untouchable higher power.
Giving employees job autonomy means that they will have brain space for creativity, which is vital to progressing as a business.
79% of people have been micromanaged at one time (Chambers, 2004). This 79% felt watched and consistently judged by their boss, and people who feel watched have been proven to perform at a lower level! Just in case you needed any more evidence that this leadership style just isn’t working…
But why do people become micromanagers? Here are three of many potential reasons;
1. They’re projecting. The psychodynamic concept of ‘Projective Identification’ describes the phenomenon in which management relationships crumble when a micromanager begins projecting their fear of incompetence onto an employee. This will display itself through increased levels of undermining behaviour towards the employee, as well as a sense of jealousy from the micromanager when the employee shows signs of improved performance.
2. They’re scared of losing control. Before rising to management level, every perfectionist micromanager was busy with the details of ‘actual work’. But since they started progressing further away from this, they started obsessively seeking all information on the work you’re now doing as the employee. They’re terrified that you’re doing things differently to how they used to do that same task. All. The. Time.
3. They lack self-awareness. Sometimes people actually believe that this is the best way to get things done! Nothing is left to chance if everything is controlled by them. It’s possible that there has also been a lack of adequate leadership training- yet it is still your job to optimise your management regardless of their constant hovering.
Help yourself by realising that the emotions you might be feeling are not your own, you are not unworthy- your boss may be projecting this onto you (see point one).
Attempt to place boundaries on their behaviour to ensure distance from their micromanaging.
Try to remain compliant in a non-passive aggressive manner, as you will demonstrate persisting respect and less time will be lost to them asking irrelevant questions.
If you identify your boss as a micromanager, it might be time to try approaching them differently. It is also important to remain self-aware and check your responses to their behaviour. Being defensive and passive aggressive will not fix anything.
All in all, if you spot micromanagement in yourself, take a step back and evaluate what it could be that’s causing you to need so much control. Once micromanagement is identified, it can be remoulded to form a very present coach-style management approach.
Having control is essential, but stifling growth and intuition is a fatal blow to any company. Be present as a manager, not suffocating, and all will be well.
Psychology student writing about behavioural sciences, business psychology and child development