Bosses who micromanage their employees use a number of excuses for holding the reigns in tight. They talk about the need for efficiency or try to disguise their actions as delegation, but micromanagement is the polar opposite of empowerment. The tight control impedes progress by making workers afraid to act on their own. Call them control freaks, meddlers or busy bodies, but micromanaging bosses are annoying encumbrances in the workplace. They create an environment of distrust and second guessing with their workforce that can quickly become a problem.
Why Bosses Micromanage
There is no doubt about it; micromanaging is a morale-killer. It is probably fruitless to try and analyze why a particular manager is over-managing their workers. It could be said that all micromanagement stems from insecurity. Distrust of employees, lack of confidence in their ability, the inability to communicate their needs, a feeling that there is only one way to accomplish a task and fear of criticism from upper management are some of the reasons people micromanage. Left unchecked, micromanaging supervisors can void the authority of other managers down the organizational chart, which can subvert an organization.
Signs of Micromanaging
Recognize when micromanagement is occurring in your company and you can start to do something about it. Common signs of micromanagement include high turnover, low morale with workers, low quality work and low productivity from people, declining profitability, slow new business development and what seems to be the wrong focus on priorities. Personally, you may have the sense that your career has stalled. You may feel lost within your team and you and other team members are reluctant to take the initiative for fear you will be overridden. Finally, you feel burned out, which can affect much more than your performance on the job. Burnout on the job invariably creates stress in other areas of your life.
How to Manage a Micromanager
Create change or move on, those are your choices when you are being micromanaged. It is impossible to stay out of a micromanager's cross hairs. According to motivational speaker Estienne de Beer's article entitled "The Menace of Micromanagement," if you report to a supervisor who is micromanaging you, you should develop coping skills and make every effort to communicate clearly with your manager. Most bosses who micromanage do not shell out the same amount of attention to each of their charges. Notice who gets along with the boss and if you trust them, seek advice. Avoid gossip and learn to think for yourself. Create a paper trail with all of your work. Micromanagers are often the types who want to be in the loop on everything, so update them regularly.
When Micromanaging Becomes Intolerable
Organizing a mutiny is likely to put you on the hot seat, so carefully weigh any group revolts against a micromanaging boss. Still, there is a limit to what any worker will endure. Acting rashly, however, will only hurt you. A wiser choice for you is to make a confidential appointment to speak with someone in authority within the human resources department. Document your complaint and perhaps they will help you to land a new position away from your boss' control. If other opportunities are not available in the company, mount a methodical job search with another organization while you are still employed.