Managing Micromanagement:

 

Advice for Employers and Employees

Micromanagement can have quite a significant impact on the working environment, in particular anxiety levels of employees and employers alike. 

 

Micromanaging be a very difficult habit to break out of, and in fact you may not even recognise your behaviour as micromanagement, instead labelling it as being a control freak or perfectionist. If you find yourself needing to control every minute detail, constantly telling subordinates how to do something they’re perfectly capable of doing themselves or frequently hover over staff members whilst they work, chances are you’re a micromanager and you really need to consider the negative impact your actions can have on the workplace. 

 

From the employees perspective, having a micromanaging superior can considerably increase workplace stress. More often than not have it has the opposite of the desired effect, causing you to make amateur mistakes or oversights you normally wouldn’t. Being micromanaged can also inhibit your professional growth by not allowing you to develop skills and experience on your own. 

 

It is the general consensus that micromanaging is the wrong approach to take, yet this doesn’t stop it. As specialist recruiter’s we are acutely aware of just how much micromanagement is occurring in the workplace, and we have accumulated some handy knowledge on how to deal with it, both from and employee’s and employer’s perspective. .

Employers – How to stop Micromanaging

Just walk away

This may sound like the easiest advice to follow, but for extreme micromanagers actually physically leaving a team to get on with a delegated task unsupervised can fill them with anxiety. To help with this simply take it slowly and one step at a time. Start by delegating a relatively low-level task and use it as a personal challenge and make a point not to interact with your subordinates until the task is done. You can then slowly and surely build this up to the point where you feel more comfortable with delegation.

Manage your expectations

A common grievance we hear from employees is that managers have unrealistic expectations of their team, particularly in terms of deadlines. This can often lead to micromanagement as superiors feel the need to constantly check up on progress and how their team is working. This can actually slow things down quite considerably.
There could be numerous reasons for these unrealistic expectations, however from our experience they often stem from a severe reduction of "on-the-ground" experience and are too far removed from day-to-day operations. In addition senior professionals can have the mindset of "I can do it so why can't you". There is a reason you've got to a position of seniority, and the majority of the time that's because you are better at your job than your colleagues. Holding them to your standard is unfair and unrealistic so you need to consider this when managing your own expectations. We recommend that you take the time to sit down with your team and set out expectations collaboratively. We recommend following the SMART framework for this (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant, Time Based)

Prioritise!

As a manager, your time is precious and no matter how much you want to be involved, you literally can't do everything yourself. When starting a project or task with your team you should take the time to ascertain which aspects of the work you should be involved with and which you shouldn't, for example strategic planning may be a more relevant use of your time than proofreading reports. Utilising your time effectively will not only reduce the levels of micromanagement, but will also make you a much more effective leader and allow you to showcase your skills and knowledge.

Training and Development

In some cases, micromanagement can start to happen due to a lack of skill or knowledge within your team, resulting in the attitude of "if you want something doing right, do it yourself". In the short term, management intervention may be the quickest and most efficient solution to a problem, however in the long term this management intervention can really add up and take a lot of your time, in addition to doing your team a disservice. We can't stress enough just how important it is to have a comprehensive training and development plan in place as this is probably the best remedy for micromanagement.

Employees – How to deal with Micromanagers

Empathise

Working in the recruitment sector we often speak to disgruntled employees looking to move on, and being micromanaged can be a significant factor in this desire to change. We have also found that the effects of micromanagement can vary wildly depending on employee attitudes. When dealing with a micromanaging boss, try to look at it from their perspective. Micromanagement may just be a byproduct of the extreme pressure they are under or the necessity for their business to succeed, and they may just need a little bit of reassurance and communication from your end to minimise this anxiety and let them know the task is in good hands.

Be your own worst critic

Micromanaging is normally a failing on the bosses part, however you would be remiss if you did not consider the possibility that you yourself are partially to blame for this behaviour. You need to critically evaluate your performance at work and identify potential areas for improvement. Think about the KPIs of your position and assess yourself against them, e.g. average response time, sales records, punctuality. It is good practice to carry out this personal development on a regular basis as it will both rebuild your bosses trust in addition to developing your professional skills and competencies.

Anticipate micromanager requests

A good trick to deal with micromanagers is to get ahead of them. This means anticipating the granular-level criticisms they'll have before they have before they deliver them, and preparing comprehensive, effective responses. This will impress your boss and reassure them that they can take a more hands-off approach.

Help your boss stop micromanaging

Approaching your boss to address their micromanagement can be a very awkward and potentially volatile situation. It is vital that it is tackled in a professional and purposeful manner and should not be an overt, aimless criticism of their poor management practices. Take the time to regularly meet with your manager and approach the meetings as an opportunity for how you can improve and reduce supervisory time required from your boss. Be open and honest, but also polite during your meetings. This will encourage your boss to listen to what you have to say without getting angry or defensive.
Following on from this you can arrange to provide regular updates to your boss on how you are progressing. Essentially you should aim to reverse the dynamic, ensuring that you go to your manager on your terms instead of them interrupting your work with their micromanagement

By no means are these exhaustive lists of all everything you can do to manage micromanagement, however if you follow these steps you should see a marked improvement in your work dynamic. Ultimately though the issues could be simply due to the fact that the employer and employee do not work well together. If you need any assistance in either finding the right employer or employee, the friendly team at Maxwell Stephens are always on hand to help, drop us an email to info@maxwellstephens.com or give us a call on 0207 118 4848.