Why Do People Micromanage Others? Do you?

Here’s the thing. Most people who micromanage others do not realize they are doing this. They also tend to manage this way for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is because they have not had strong examples and role models who would have shown them via examples of how to actually manage people well. Another reason people micromanage others is because they are not confident in their own abilities, and this lack of confidence manifests itself in how they treat and manage them.

Lack of trust is also a reason people micromanage those who work for them. Establishing trust is something we know takes time, and unfortunately even with a fair amount of time working for a manager who has micromanagement tendencies, will not change their behavior. So, what are you supposed to do when you work for someone like this? I’m going to assume this management style does what I refer to as rub your fur the wrong way each day.

The first thing I can tell you is that most micromanagers can change, although if you are working for one, it might be hard to imagine this. Generally, the first approach I take when I come across someone who is a micromanager, is to ask them the following questions:

  • How would you describe your management style?
  • What type of communication style is your preference for interacting with me and the rest of the team?
  • What provides you with a sense of comfort in terms of reporting on results of projects or tasks being worked on (e.g., verbal, visual, both)?
  • How much autonomy are you comfortable with giving me on all of my projects on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the most comfortable)?
  • What does it take to earn your trust on being able to work independently?
  • What level of involvement (e.g., hands-on, hands-off) do you prefer to have as it relates to the work your direct reports are doing?
  • Describe your ideal management style.  

Once you have answers to the questions above, you can then start to better understand why and how this person manages the way they do. However, if you are unsure about how to go about indirectly helping them to change their management style to one which better suits you –  and no, I do not think a micromanagement style suits anyone, here are some options to consider pursuing.

  • If you think you can reduce the micromanagement level of your boss by better understanding why they manage the way they do, you might be able to continue working for them.
  • Altering a person’s management style is a complex thing to do, and they have to first recognize this style is not ideal, and want to consciously change and not manage this way. If you can get them to recognize they are a micromanager by talking to them about the style of management which best suits you, you might have a shot at getting them to reconsider and work on changing their current style.
  • People in general do not like change, so the chances of someone altering their micromanagement work style is going to take both time and patience. It will also take having this manager learn alternative ways of managing, and this will take coaching and mentoring from others who are not micromanagers.

So, how do you know if you are a micromanager? 

  • People do not tend to work for you very long.
  • Your team does not seem to be as engaged or productive as other teams.
  • Direct reports do not often seek your advice.
  • People who report to you often appear to be frustrated.
  • Your management peers do not engage with you as much as they do with other managers.
  • You have not received many promotions, or opportunities for growth at your present or prior companies.

We all would agree that being or working for a micromanager is not ideal, yet there are many people who fall into both of these categories. If you recognize you are, or have tendencies of being a micromanager, this is a good thing. Why? Because a person can only change when they first recognize these management traits, and then realize they are not ideal. Seeking guidance on how to change your management style is highly recommended, as no one wants to be a micromanager, or work for someone who is one. Please ask for help. Getting help could save and alter your career in a really positive way.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief PerformanceStrategist and CEO of Market Me Too. MarketMe Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. She is also the author of a newly published business book called WisdomWhisperer which is available via Amazon, and has had numerous strong reviews.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis, which produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. Think of me as a “people are like diamonds – polisher”.

If you want better results with what you are doing, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen atkathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.T

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