Without control from the leader, the team may not work as it should. As a result, projects and products cannot be delivered on time, etc. That is why all project and task management systems have the ability to manage the work of employees. It is unfortunate, but many leaders are so immersed in control that they interfere with the work of others.
What is micromanagement?
Micromanagement (or microcontrol, or micromanagement) is a style of management when a leader suppresses any initiative, controls every step of employees and turns them into “hands” that they use to broadcast their ideas to the world. The micromanager explains (often after the fact) exactly how to do a particular job and demands that everything be exactly the way he wants it to be. And the questions "why" and "why" should be answered in the spirit of "because I said so."
Instead of teaching, the micromanager tells you what to do.
And then you find out that you were hired as an expert, but your opinion is not taken into account, because the manager has his own idea, as it should be.
It's especially bad to work under a micromanager in companies where creativity is needed. Just imagine a design studio where the art director forces the designers to adjust solely to their own taste, without explaining it in any way. In this mode, even the most enterprising and creative employees eventually lose interest in work and self-confidence, get stuck in a routine. The speed of work suffers, and the results become worse.
While micromanagement has negative connotations in general because it hinders the development of employees, reduces their autonomy, and slows down the pace of work, there are times when it is beneficial.
For example, if you need to train a new employee. Careful control during the adaptation period helps the newcomer to quickly immerse themselves in the processes and understand their role. The main thing is not to forget to lower the degree of control later.
Another option is employees who are not ready for independence. They want to be told what to do. But does the company need such employees?
Where does microcontrol come from?
Managers get into micromanagement for a variety of reasons:
- Afraid of being isolated. As managers move up the corporate ladder, they often worry that they will lose touch with the real job once they move up to the top management level. As soon as there is less contact with clients and performers, the manager feels isolated. To muffle this feeling, he often involves himself in the work of low-level workers.
- Feel more comfortable in familiar territory. Other managers are afraid to leave their old job, so instead of high-level tasks, such as managing budgets, they climb to lower levels. They are more comfortable doing their old operational work than watching others do it.
- Not sure of yourself. Out of self-doubt grows a bunch of fears, from the fear that employees will do something that will tarnish their hard-earned reputations, to the fear that they won't be seen as authorities or experts (some micromanagers therefore don't hire tough people - afraid of competition).
- Feel the need for control and dominance. These can be those who previously worked under the supervision of a micromanager, and those who were overprotected by their parents, and many others with psychological trauma and complexes. Negative experience in all these cases eventually turns a manager into a micromanager.
But more often than not, microcontrol arises from a lack of trust and respect between the manager and employees. There is a large segment of managers who do not trust specialists in their team and are afraid to delegate tasks to them. Trust cannot be built at the snap of a finger; it has to be worked on over time. It's difficult, which is why they often prefer to do a lot on their own, annoying employees who "fall short of their high standards."
However, when a manager and an employee trust each other, it is almost impossible to micromanage. You are not in command. You work together. This is the point.
How to recognize a micromanager
I think by this point you have already roughly understood what a micromanager is, and if he is in your environment, you probably already recognized him (perhaps the micromanager is you). But let's pretend it's not. So micromanager:
- does not delegate work;
- prefers to solve most problems independently;
- closes everything on itself;
- is strongly involved in the work of employees;
- constantly interested in how things are going;
- expects daily/weekly/monthly detailed reports even on minor cases;
- tells employees exactly how to do something, and imposes his opinion, suppressing any initiative;
- spends a lot of time on operational issues, scoring on strategic ones;
- rarely satisfied with the results;
- sets unrealistic deadlines;
- calls into question the competence of employees;
- reacts sharply to criticism;
- regularly requires employees to put aside their own to do something ASAP;
- furious when decisions are made without him;
- monitors employees to keep abreast of what they are working on;
- requires everything to be documented;
- writes and calls employees during non-working hours;
- asks employees to always put it in a copy.
The presence of a micromanager is also indicated by the state of the team itself:
- the team is demotivated;
- the team works faster when the manager is on vacation or sick;
- There is a lot of turnover in the team.
How to deal with micromanagement
And now that you know for sure if there is a micromanager somewhere around, let's imagine three hypothetical situations, and figure out what to do in each of them.
"I'm led by a micromanager"
As I said, microcontrol grows out of trust issues. All you can do when a manager doesn't trust you (well, besides quitting) is try to connect with them. Try to approach the issue professionally and tactfully, convey to the manager the idea that you can do a good job for which you were hired. For this:
- Understand the causes of his self-doubt and try to reduce it. Meet with the manager often and ask what is bothering him.
- Find a way to prove that you can be trusted. It’s just not worth doing it on the forehead, because micromanagers don’t like it when someone teaches them something. Start with something small that he will trust you without any problems.
- Analyze interactions. Take a week and write down all the interactions you have with your manager. And then share ideas with him on how to improve those interactions to save time, money, etc.
- Show that you can delegate. Take on jobs that you know you'll be good at and report progress regularly to your manager.
- Ask for feedback, not permission. We often invite managers to micromanage us. For example, asking permission to do something. This makes the manager doubt our ability to make decisions. If you need the help of a manager, formulate the request in such a way that it is just feedback, a comment, but not an indication.
- Implement a project and task management system for transparency. Once the manager understands that he can see what you are working on at any time, the need for micromanagement may disappear.
- Invite him to talk openly about everything. If you feel like you're being micromanaged, be honest and specific: "I want to do the task myself and then get feedback from you."
"Micromanager is me"
According to research, micromanagement is one of the top three reasons employees leave. It kills creativity, provokes the growth of distrust and stress. If you want to avoid all this and keep your team, here are some tips to help you stop micromanaging your employees. Or at least move in the right direction.
- Ask more questions and give fewer answers. Questions to the team will allow them to feel like full-fledged participants in the workflow. But give answers only if they are really needed. In general, do not impose
- Remember that you are a leader, not a performer. Your task is to help employees apply their skills and knowledge, not yours. No one doubts that you are a programming guru, a design genius and that's it. But your role is completely different now, so try to fit in.
- Set goals, don't explain how to do them. Say what to do, not how. Let the team figure it out, based on their experience, and find the right solution.
- Introduce an open door policy so that employees can turn to you for advice when they really need it.
- And remember that you are leading people. Budgets, numbers - all this is cool, but behind them are living people with whom you have the same goals (if they don’t match, it’s better to scatter). Establish contact with them, build partnerships.
"I'm in charge of the micromanager"
If you find that one of your subordinate managers revels in total control, you need to urgently take action to reduce the damage that micromanagement causes to people and the company itself.
Keep in mind that managing micromanagers is a complex process that requires careful thought. Therefore, one cannot do without a cool HR specialist.
- Create an open positive work culture where every employee is a part of the overall success, people will feel supported and appreciated, and micromanagers will not be able to thrive.
- Help everyone in the company to use their strengths so that everyone enjoys work and fulfillment.
- Make the development of team members part of the manager's job so that he does not turn them into "hands".
- Meet directly with team members (without a manager) and ask them to tell you about their work.
Despite the benefits of micromanaging in certain situations, I personally consider it pure evil. With a probability of 99%, the presence of a manager who controls his employees at the micro level will negatively affect the efficiency of the company, because team members from independent specialists will turn into zombies. I won’t advise you on what to do personally when faced with a micromanager, but you definitely shouldn’t leave everything as it is.