Dealing with a micromanager

I received a number of great responses to last Thursday’s column, What to do when your boss is a micromanager , and below are a few that I’d like to share. Thank you for all of your recent comments.

Two readers commented on what I’d like to call considerations about workplace psychology. They rightly suggested that insecurity and judgment may be key reasons why young supervisors, in particular, tend to micromanage:

“Management may judge subordinates but subordinates also judge management by their management style. Young micromanagers exhibit insecurity in themselves. The older the micromanager, the more likely their management style is defective and destructive.

 

“A manager of any level of excellence knows you manage workflow...not people. The best managers know how to extract maximum productivity from their staff by simply having confidence in their management style and then encouraging confident work skills that is in a continual state of growth.” Federal Coach reader

“The problem with federal government and management is its archaic civil service templates for upward mobility. The process in federal government is often politically influenced and therefore, always insecure. This makes it more difficult for the most capable employees to establish their excellence. Grade levels in Civil Service are demeaning to today's breed of educated employees. Grades are for elementary and high school...not adults charged with the duties of government.” Federal Coach reader

Using a similar line of reasoning, another reader pointed out, that supervisors may micromanage areas in which they have little expertise or experience, to overcompensate for their shortcomings:

“Having the perspective to see the big picture is a gift, and not every manager has it. If a manager can see only a small segment of the big picture – whether because of past experience or mental shortcoming – he or she will "micromanage" that aspect of the process.”– Federal Coach reader

Ruth Knollmueller, who has held managerial roles for more than two decades, emailed me the following comment about development:

“I am not a new supervisor but I remember when I was. What I knew best then was the ‘job’ and not the process of managing work through others. I worked in a Visiting Nurse Agency in CT and we had a group of supervisors who met weekly or so and that really became a group mentoring experience. The supervisory role is primarily a staff development one, not a picky micro-management one.

“In organizations where there are still supervisors, it often is the role or glue that keeps upper management and staff together. However, the past 25+ years, that whole middle management role has been discontinued as not needed since staff are better educated now and as a cost savings. What is lost is the staff development aspect that grows better managers in the long run and provides for deliberate successor planning.” –  Ruth N. Knollmueller RN., PhD

Last but not least, Clive Ngwenya, a self-admitted micromanager, emailed me a comment about next steps, in which micromanagers can begin to trust in their employees and delegate more efficiently:

“As a micromanager... Yes! Admitting it is the first step, I would like to thank you for this informative word; it will make or has already tuned my mind to think differently to being one who supervises with much more autonomy.” –  Clive Ngwenya

Again, these are just a few responses I received. Please continue sharing your ideas and questions by emailing me at fedcoach@ourpublicservice.org.

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View Photo Gallery: Leadership experts from Warren Bennis to Tom Peters share their picks of the best leadership books to hit shelves this year.

More from On Leadership:

What to do when your boss is a micromanager

Rocking the boat in federal agencies

Tom Fox, of the Partnership for Public Service, explores workplace issues and provides advice for federal managers through analysis, interviews and reader Q&As in his Federal Coach blog for On Leadership.

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