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Taken by Mikael in Stanford, Western Cape

Micromanagement is not a new phenomenon and in limited instances it’s a justified tool to manage an employee out or to give them a kick in the butt. However, if you’re capable and reliable it’s one of the most frustrating ways to be managed. You feel unable to own the goals you’ve set out to achieve, uninspired and inadequate. Furthermore, it’s inefficient and draws both manager and employee into hours talking about the same data points with little change.

If this is happening to you, consider why. Does it come from elements of a lack of trust in your capability, insecurity on your boss’s behalf, or perhaps he/she’s unable to let go of what they were doing before they hired you?

Whatever the reason, it needs to be addressed head on, if not your performance may drop or you’ll get so frustrated and leave. Aim for a constructive and forwarding thinking conversation with your boss. It’s not an easy one so prepare. Consider their point of view. Talk directly, with a couple of examples for context. Explain how you are unable to be at your best for the organisation being managed like this. Work to build up trust by ensuring your boss feels he/she can delegate work to you. Ensure the objective of the work is understood and for when it’s due. A common occurrence with a micromanager is that they’ll check up on you too regularly. If you’ve agreed to the deadline/review points, you can very easily refer to these, in a calm way telling your boss to back off until the deadline is due.

A further reason for micromanagement could be because you’ve been hired to manage a new team due to business growth. Your boss needs to acknowledge change is here, to let go, allowing you do what you were hired for. A further symptom may be that they’re too active checking in all the time. If true, apply the guide above with set check-in points.

As a manager, perhaps you micromanage your teams or elements thereof. Is the above feeling relevant to some of your team members? Think about the projects your teams are currently working on and how you manage this process. Perhaps there’s something you need to let go of, allowing your teams to feel greater levels of empowerment and for you to spend more time on strategy, resource assessment and building the culture?

In Summary: If you are being micromanaged or are a micromanager, be concerned. It will not produce the best results.

p.s This post is inspired following a lunch I shared with a MBA college of mine in New York, and on thinking about it, it’s a global topic. Thanks Laura!

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