First of all, let’s get one thing straight: there is guiding someone, and there is micromanaging someone. Micromanagement can be extremely dangerous for both the manager and the direct report.
The worst part of it is – the person doing it often can’t even recognise it!
How to Recognise Micromanagement
By definition, micromanagement is the need to control every part, however small, of (an enterprise or activity).
Without a doubt, micromanagement has negative connotations. Let’s look into some examples of micromanagement:
- The manager gives you a task and then “checks in” all the time. Instead of letting you come to them, they keep monitoring your work closely. Consequently, this makes you feel uncomfortable and incompetent. It also creates the feeling of self-doubt because you don’t understand why do they keep checking up on you.
- The manager focuses on low-level details. That can be in form of comments on the format of your report or colours used for colour-coding. Ultimately, unneeded comments on things that don’t affect your performance.
- The manager comments on your preferred communication style with the team. For example, if you choose to communicate in person instead of using the internal chat. Again, it does not affect your performance.
- the formatting of your report, colours used for colour-coding. or your preferred way of communicating with the team. In the end, all that matters is getting the job done, and done right. If you complete everything on time, have a good relationship with the team, and everyone is clear on what needs to be done, there is absolutely no reason for the micromanagement.
Micromanagement is a terrible thing and it can lead to people quitting. This, as a result, means high turnover and it is bad for the remaining teammates as well as the company in general.
Micromanagement also creates an uneasy, uninspirational, and uncomfortable work environment. If you don’t feel trusted, this will hurt your relationship with the manger.
Same as with other negative tendencies in our lives, micromanagement is not sustainable. Sooner or later, the plane will crash. This can be in the form of a resignation of the manager, complete shift to mismanagement, or a long sick leave caused by burnout.
How to Approach the Micromanaging Manager
Because the managers don’t know they micromanage, this can be difficult. However, this is something that has to be discussed. Not only for your sake but for the entire team and the company.
First of all, check and see if anyone else feels this micromanagement. Ask your colleagues about it in a discrete way. Maybe drop a casual comment on how many times your manager checked on you during the day. See what they say and think. Don’t talk too much and don’t talk too fast. Let the other person lead the conversation.
Second, you have to be 100% sure you are doing a good job. If you are still in training, addressing micromanagement will be tricky. If you are comfortable in your position, and you know you’re doing a good job, then you can talk to the manager about this.
Third, do it in private. Whenever you decide to discuss this behaviour with your manager, make sure to do it in private. Even if a few more team members want to join, don’t do it like that. You don’t want to cause trouble or make the manager feel uncomfortable. You simply want to address the issue before it escalates. If there is anyone else who’d like to speak with the manager about it, leave it to them, but it definitely needs to be one person talking to the manager. Remember, they are probably not aware of the micromanagement. Often, those types of managers describe themselves as “extremely well organised”, “with great attention to detail” or “perfectionists”.
Important Thing to Remember
We are all human. If the manager is micromanaging, it means that they lack something in their life. They desperately need to control. Because they can’t do it privately, they do it in their professional lives. See how it’s best to approach your manager and how you can bring this up.