How Do You Handle a Stifling, Micro-Managing Manager?

Have you ever worked for someone who couldn’t understand that you don’t need to have your hand held through each of your tasks?

I have encountered this many times over. I get it as a parent can be with their child or a person with a spouse or boyfriend, because some leaders have a dysfunctional and almost abnormal need to feel wanted and/or needed.

These are leaders who like a dependent team, not an independent team. They derive their worth from micromanaging every aspect of their teams work and day.

There are some employees on your team that will appreciate the extra hand-holding or may actually need it. However, a number of them will be annoyed with your constant meddling. In either scenario, you are doing your employees a disservice by operating this way.

Helping employees spread their wings

In the first scenario with the needy employee, they need you, you need them. It is the perfect situation, right? No.

On one hand it is great for you to provide the individual support that one of your team members may need to be successful in their position. In contrast, you are so hands-on that this person never spreads his or her wings. They will never realize the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from working through a problem and ultimately fixing it without anyone else’s assistance.

This level of problem-solving and critical thinking are the same skills that become important from a developmental standpoint and could hurt the person’s chances of moving up the proverbial ladder. With your independent players, the liability here is that they will feel like you are purposely trying to stifle them not only in their positions, but also from growing beyond their current rank.

When I went through this, I just remember thinking: “Wow! This lady is a nut job! Can I breathe? Let me do what you hired me to do.”

The beauty of leadership is rooted in remaining flexible to the needs of your team. If one person needs a little more attention, you give it. If you have a few high-performers who require simple guidance and behind-the-scenes support, move out of their way and let them get the job done.

Article Continues Below

More importantly, if you are a micro-manager, you need to redefine your worth within the parameters of your job. You are not more successful as a leader when you are giving orders and trying to manage everyone else’s desk plus your own.

Micromanaging proves a few things

What your micromanaging proves is that:

  1. You have no faith in your team to execute their tasks accordingly.
  2. You have issues with true delegation and that should be addressed.
  3. You prefer the visibility to be on you and not your team which is why you won’t allow them to do their jobs.
  4. You fear the potential for failure when you are not in a position to handle a task or project.
  5. You are not interested in developing your team so they can eventually move into other roles. Keeping them dependent allows you to stagnate the very skills that would propel them ahead.

No matter what the needs of your individual team members are, have faith in them. Empower them. Allow them to problem solve and critically think through issues.

Creating a safe haven

Create a safe-haven for failure so employees don’t fear failure, but see it as an inevitable outcome in business. Support your team so they bounce back from those inevitable failures wiser and better than before.

This is what people have wanted in a leader in the past and present. Equally, this is how leaders will have to operate in the future.

This was originally published on Janine Truitt’s The Aristocracy of HR blog.

Janine N. Truitt is a human resources professional as well as an HR blogger/founder of “The Aristocracy of HR” blog. Follow her blog "The Aristocracy of HR" at http://hr.toolbox.com/blogs/aristocracy-hr/ . Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her tweets on Twitter @CzarinaofHR. The opinions shared in her articles are her own and are in no way a reflection of the views of her employer.

Topics