Micromanagers historically have a bad rap, largely due to the negative effect they have on the business and it’s employees. Staff feels disempowered, opportunity and innovation are stifled and the management technique gives rise to poor performance.
“Absolutely no one likes to be micro-managed. It’s frustrating, demoralizing, and demotivating.” — Miguel Maignan Wilkins, Harvard Business Review
Given the negative connotations associated with micromanaging, how do you know you are being micromanaged? What are the signs of a micromanager that you need to be aware of? Here are five!
1. They never let you drive a decision.
A micromanager craves being in control, as such they will rarely allow you to drive a decision. They struggle to relinquish control. They will maintain control over everything through (among other things):
- Requesting constant updates perhaps through e-mail or meetings (over and above the pre-determined checkpoints for a project).
- Require you to cc them in all e-mail correspondence relating to a project.
- Send you e-mails asking you for the status of the project.
After collecting the information they need they’ll make the decisions and never let you contribute. Not only is your productivity affected as you have to attend meetings and respond to e-mails, it’s demoralizing.
2. They are always complaining about something.
They are perfectionists and thus pay attention to the closest detail. They believe that the only way for something to get done properly is if they do it themselves. Consequently, they will never be 100% happy with how you performed the task and they will never be totally happy with the deliverables. They will complain about the mistakes you made, and mention how you should have done it. They will tell you that they could have done it better.
For example, consider a proposal you have completed in line with the exact requirements. You complete it and send it to your employer for review, only to find a horde of changes and additions as a result of their excessive attention to detail.
3. They are unable or unwilling to pass knowledge / skills on to you.
Their desire to be in control means that they don’t pass knowledge onto you, knowledge which in effect would allow you to complete a task more efficiently and in a timely manner. This, in turn, leads to you as the employee not being empowered, which causes huge frustration.
For example, they might require that a project proposal follows a specific format. Instead of properly providing you with the format and/or the skills to make the necessary formatting changes, they will rather allow struggling through the process so that they can make the necessary changes after you have completed it.
Not only does micromanagement have a direct negative impact on employees and business, but also on the micromanager. Through focusing on minor, pointless tasks, their own productivity is diminished.
4. They monitor you very closely.
A micromanager will observe and monitor you closely. This behavior stems from several sources:
- Lack of trust in your abilities; they believe they can do things better.
- Being a perfectionist as they pay attention to the smallest detail (while positive in some instances, excessive attention to detail can be crippling).
- Allows them to maintain a sense of control that they deeply crave.
Monitoring will take a variety of forms as outlined in point 1. You may even hear from a work colleague that your micro-manager asked them where you were when you were out of the office.
5. They accuse you of the pettiest things.
Their excessive attention to details causes them to knit-pick on the smallest things, the smallest detail, which may not even have relevance to the project as a whole. All it does do though, causes frustration and creates an environment of unhappiness. Employee job satisfaction is diminished as a result.