Hey, HR Lady…


Micromanaging:  Why They Do It & Why We Hate It!

Q. I love my job but I can’t stand my direct boss.  She is such a micro-manager and it is driving me crazy.  She assigns me a task and then checks in with me a million times and corrects everything I do.  Do you have any advice on dealing with this type of management style, because it has gotten so bad that I just want to leave my job?                                 ~Elizabeth,Bend

Dear Elizabeth:
I hear ya sister!  Wikipedia defines micro management as, “a management style where a manager closely observes or controls the work of his or her subordinates or employees. Micromanagement generally has a negative connotation.”  Further, Merriam Webster adds this example, “rather than giving general instructions on smaller tasks and then devoting his time to supervising larger concerns, the micromanager monitors and assesses every step of a business process and avoids delegation of decisions.  

“Micromanagers are usually irritated when a subordinate makes decisions without consulting them, even if the decisions are totally within the subordinate’s level of authority.”  I am very familiar with this unproductive management style and there is some level of micro management occurring in every organization.   Micromanagers prevent leaders from developing and stilt the creative process to a screeching halt.  What is purely ironic is that micromanagers don’t even realize what they are doing; but all their subordinates know it for sure.

Elizabeth, when dealing with a micromanager I offer these tidbits as tools for your survival.  The best way to deal with micromanagers is to provide them with frequent updates almost over update them with information.  Give them a spoonful of their own medicine.  Micro managers want frequent updates as they love to “be in the know” so inundate them with responses and reports to their multiple requests.

Really listen to them and clarify their expectations at the start of assignments so you both have a clear expectation on the deliverables, results and time frame of a certain project to pre-empt any miscommunication down the road.  Lastly, remember there are lessons to be learned here.  I have learned a great deal from the most terrible bosses on “how not to be” with people and “what not to do”.  Don’t miss the lesson in the chaos.  

Pay close attention to this person’s idiosyncrasies, behaviors and hot buttons.  Take very detailed notes at every meeting so you can refer back to them if / when there is a change in direction that is unwarranted.  Oftentimes, micro managers are not very organized themselves and they forget things and then the pendulum swings and you become the source of blame for their own inequities. 

Protect yourself.  As with every bad situation, you need to ask yourself “Does, the good outweigh the bad?”  When the bad starts to overshadow the good and you know what your own personal breaking point is then it may be time to move on.  It is important to know that there is a long continuum of micro managers and someone might be mildly irritating in their need for control while the opposite end of that spectrum is the full-blown narcissist, tyrannical boss.  Know where your boss falls on this scale and act accordingly.

Julie Leutschaft, MPA, MHA is the owner of The HUMAN Touch, LLC – A human resources and career coaching firm.  Send your questions to Julie@thehumantouchHR.com.  Come visit us at our new location opening in October at 651 NW Main Street in Redmond.  www.thehumantouchHR.com.


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