What is Micromanaging all about?

“The more you use your reins the less they’ll use their brains.” ~ The Horse Whisper

A common error for new management personnel is that they tend to over manage the employees. They want to do a good job to show their boss that they were the right choice for the position, but end up going a bit to the extreme in “managing the staff.”

Eventually many managers will come to the realization that they are over-managing and ease up on the reins and learn to work together with the team, which plays out to a happier environment.

Then there are those that unfortunately do not learn this lesson and actually like the fact that they are in control or the feel that they need to be in control to do their job well. They continue to micromanage their employees, which is detrimental to the employees and the business.

Common displays of micromanaging are;

1. Employees are given tasks to do, but the manager always finds something wrong that they need to correct.

2. The manager has all work tasks checked out by them and checked in by them. Nothing is done until the manager has evaluated it.

3. When the employee is handling their job, such as a customer issue, the manager always steps up to take over as though the employee cannot handle the situation without their guidance.

4. The manager inspects the employees desks and workload each day making sure that the employee knows what they need to do and that they (the manager) know exactly what work is on each employees desk.

5. They make employees spend more time reporting on their work than getting work done.

I could go on about what micromanagers do, but if you work for one you already know. So the question is what can you do about it if you are an employee?

Many times managers become over obsessive because they are pressured to do a good job by upper management. They think that if they watch the employees every move and make sure they are correct that they will win approval of their superiors.

What can you do as an employee who is being micromanaged?

1. As an employee you can let your manager know that you understand the pressure that they must be under and that you will make sure you do the best job that you can for them. By showing empathy to their situation you may ease their pressure on you.

2. You need to figure out what are the key issues that your manager micromanages and then report these things to them before they ask you about them. Beat them to the punch line, do not wait for them to come to you go to them. This might show them that you know what you are doing.

3. Make suggestions to your micromanager how you think things should be done and then wait, many times they will turn these into their ideas and suggest you try them.

4. If things are intolerable ask if you can meet with them privately and then ask them one question “how would you feel if you were not trusted to do your job right?” Let them know exactly how you feel about being micromanaged in an appropriate way by reversing the situations that they put you in. Usually they will have to say they would not like it, but they may say they need to continue to do it for a reason.

In the economic times that we are living in the solution for the time being may be to learn to play by the micromanagers rules. What is really sad it that in these tough economic times that the business owner doesn’t realize that their business could be doing much better by their employees not being micromanaged…but that is for another blog post.

Handling a Micromanager


9 thoughts on “What is Micromanaging all about?

  1. Tina,

    This is right on. I had a horrible micro-manager who drove me crazy. To handle him myself and another co-worker started to collaborate and we would head him off on key issues. As well, when something went wrong we would step up and say “I’m responsible” which took the wind out of his sails. He ended up trusting us both heavily and we were able to move out and up in the organization. Others in the department thought we were his pets because he ended up managing us less than others – because we made sure to give him less to manage.

    Have a great day!


    • Hi Carol

      Thank you for your comment and great points of how to handle and overcome working with a micro-manager. I just had the opportunity to talk with a lady who is a micro-manager and tried to give her some tips on how she could learn to let her staff have more control over the work they did. Not sure if she believed me but for her staff’s sake I hope she will try some of the advice. 🙂

      • Hopefully she will see that change will be helpful. The micro-manager I worked for never really understood the negative impact he had on his department. He was a nice enough guy, just would not let us work on our own.

  2. Excellent post!

    It seems that more and more people may become micro managers because they are fearful for their job in our economic times. They want to look good, and unfortunately it doesn’t always work out to their advantage.

  3. Pingback: Interesting Articles for October | simplifypersonalproductivity

  4. Pingback: Today’s Double-Feature: Micromanagement & Resolving Workplace Conflict « North Jersey Small Business Forum

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