By John Trombley, Organizational Consultant
The Village Business Institute
Micromanagement is one of those terms that raises employee hackles and makes some supervisors become defensive. At one extreme end of the spectrum of behaviors and attitudes relevant to this phenomena is the employee who rebels against being told what to do or how to do it, while at the other end is the insecure supervisor who can’t keep his or her hands off the details of the tasks that others are responsible for doing.
In reality, delegation and micromanagement are two very different approaches to supervision. Whereas effective delegation is a highly valued management tool that every supervisor should have in their management tool-kit, micromanagement has more to do with a supervisor’s internal, personal need to feel valuable and useful – or at least to look like they are – rather than a compelling business need.
For the manager accused of micromanagement, perhaps the best place to begin is by conducting an honest internal audit. The reality is that micromanagers do not see themselves as being overly controlling or as having an excessive attention to detail. They may often feel that people just do not understand them and that they really do have the best interests of the organization at heart. That may all be true, but that may also be a matter of perception. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
So, how do you know if you might be guilty of micromanagement? Glad you asked. You might be a micromanager if:
- you tend to doubt your employee’s competence to accomplish job tasks and duties;
- you find yourself getting irritated or even angry when a subordinate makes a decision without your approval or consultation;
- you pride yourself in being a perfectionist and in being “detail oriented”;
- you require (otherwise unnecessary) detailed reports on projects and processes just to “check up” on people’s progress;
- you deny being a micromanager even when those around you tell you otherwise.
Let’s say that after you do a self-analysis and get some honest feedback from peers, employees, and those close to you, you determine that there may, indeed, be a need to change your leadership style. What now?
I believe the answer is multi-dimensional. First and foremost, self-awareness is the starting point. Be aware of your motives, your emotions, your effectiveness, and your impact. Second, become intentional about how you relate to others because when there is either too much pressure or not enough, most of us resort to old, often bad, habits. Being aware and being intentional should go a long way toward creating new, desirable, habits.
Third, choose a learning path. Learn to pay attention to the impact of your attitudes, actions and words on other people. Study concepts like Paul Hersey’s and Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership®, learn delegation skills, and by all means, seek out a coaching or mentoring relationship with someone you trust and respect.
In the end, all the good intentions you have when engaging in behaviors that look and feel like micromanagement, only serve to bring about the workplace issues you are trying to avoid.
About the blogger:
John E. Trombley, organization development consultant and training with The Village Business Institute has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo. Prior to founding his own organization development company, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander, and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard—he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.
With over 16 years of experience in providing consulting services and training programs, Trombley has a passion for group process facilitation and corporate training in areas including leadership development, change management, leadership transition processes, managerial coaching, and personality assessment workshops. He is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator, is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management Group Crisis Intervention, and is certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.
For more information, contact The Village Business Institute at 1-800-627-8220 or www.thevbi.com.