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  • Dr Mo

When Managers are Micro

Micromanagement in its truest form is about control. The need for control, the unwillingness to give up control, and the blockade of others being in control. As humans, we all crave control at various aspects of our lives from time to time. 

Let’s consider a toddler for instance, the minute the toddler gains some independence he or she fights for the ability to self-feed, clothe etc. The same goes for a teenager, who reaches that monumental phase, and believes “ I know it all”, I am in control of my grades, so I can afford to hang out with friends, and still keep my grades up. The college student thinks, she can attend the social event, and still make it to class early, and it goes on and on. So, you see, the need for control is inherently in all of us.

Now, so far, the examples, I listed pertains to self. What then happens when we begin to interact with others in groups, for a group project or for work? Sometimes this inherent behavior of being in control changes from I’m in control, I can handle it, to I should be the only one in control, no one else can handle it like me. When a said individual assumes the role of a boss, this mindset transcends to how they manage.

Micromanagers have a hard time delegating tasks. Task delegation represents a lot of things one of which is asking for help. Micromanagers view asking for help as a weakness, so they would rather not. In the rare cases where tasks are delegated, or even within the scope of responsibilities of their reports, these managers require constant feedback. These managers want to be aware of every step of the process and would prefer that no decision however minute be made without their knowledge. 

The best way to handle a micromanaging boss, is to schedule some time with them prior to beginning any project. Do your best to get a clear picture of their expectation and discuss check points. In other words, you both agree on when feedback will be provided. This helps to minimize the need for constant oversight.

If you feel you have a micromanaging boss and you need to bring it to their attention, the best way, is to phrase your comments in a way that acknowledges them and their value, this makes them more likely to be receptive. An example of this is, “I understand you are very busy, and my goal is to help lighten your workload as I am able. So, noticed that there are some aspects of the project that may not be going as you would like it, how would you suggest, I handle it better, to put you more at ease and not take you away from your already full schedule”

Some level of micromanagement, may be necessary, depending on what is at stake, and who is responsible for the task. For an early career employee, this is a chance to learn, unlearn and relearn some things, until you find out the best framework that suits you. Overseeing the work being done by an early career employee may be necessary, giving the employee a chance to prove themselves. Oversight should still leave room for some independence, to allow the employee to learn and grow. 

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