The Micromanager and Her Weary Team

As we discussed earlier, a manager exhibits micromanager behavior because she needs to succeed, because she fears failure, because she’s insecure and has to win.  What she doesn’t realize is that her micromanager behaviors are going to make her anything but a success, and this is most apparent as it relates to her team.

As frustrating and demoralizing as micromanager behavior can be, as Revolutionary Assistants we care about the success of our managers and our company, so it’s important that we address these group dynamics as best we can.  Your manager doesn’t realize that she’s digging her own grave right now, and here’s why:

  • She’s a target for blame.  Your team will say, “I wanted to get that done, but I couldn’t go any farther without Jane’s approval.”  True or not, your micromanager’s the scapegoat.
  • She’s not developing successors.  The higher you go within the company, the more important it is to develop others who can perform at your level.  Why?  So you can be promoted!
  • Her team is unproductive or not producing quality work.  They are entirely “tuned out” because they can do very little without permission, they can’t be creative, and they don’t feel successful.

Some of these problems are outside of your scope, but there are things that you can do for the team to alleviate some of the pain they’re feeling.

Clarify project priorities and deadlines for the team and make them visible – As we recommended in our discussion about how you, as an individual, can make your life easier by clarifying priorities and deadlines, you can make life easier for your team by doing the same for them…and then posting them on the wall (or somewhere where no one can miss them).  By making directions from your micromanager to your team as obvious as possible, you’ll eliminate any of that morale-killing confusion and help the team see that they’re making progress against goals.

Jump into the approval processes that bog the team down – If your team is constantly held up because your micromanager can’t give her blessing on their work 24/7, do what you can to insert yourself.  I read a particularly good example of a manager who insisted on approving travel for 400 subordinates, and was constantly costing the company money because requests weren’t approved in time for the 14-day airfare window.  The assistant reviewed the manager’s past approval patterns and found that the only requests that were a problem for her manager were employees who were making their second and third requests for travel in a month’s time.  But all requests were being held up until he could review them.  So she prepared a report of his last six months of travel approvals, pointed out that these second/third requests seemed to be his only issue, and proposed that if the travel request were less than $600 and were the first request of the month for that specific employee, that she be able to approve it without consulting him.  He agreed, and she was able to review and approve 75% of all requests coming through with little or no delay.  This is an excellent example of how an assistant can jump into a process and make it better for her team.

Administrative support during meetings – If you’re unfortunate enough to work with one of those micromanagers that enjoy keeping their team at their beck and call, you may want to step in and alleviate some of this pain.  If your micromanager is calling meetings and keeping folks waiting 15 minutes before he shows up, you can insert yourself into the situation by volunteering to call the group together when the micromanager is ready to go.  You can also show your support during the meeting by keeping the discussion on track and not letting the discussion go down the micromanager-beloved rabbit hole.  Digressions are unproductive and not worthy of the team’s time!

Help the team by assisting with status reporting – If your micromanager loves unreasonable amounts of reporting, see what you can do to take some of the burden off the team and take it on yourself.  It’s likely they’ll be happier to see your face than your micromanager’s, anyway.  Devise the simplest, least time-consuming method for gathering information, and take it upon yourself to assemble it in a manner that will satisfy your micromanager.

If most micromanagers don’t even know that they’re exhibiting micromanager behaviors, they certainly don’t understand the effect they’re having on their teams.  By jumping in to help, you can do the revolutionary thing and ensure that your team enjoys success even though they’re being micromanaged.

Next Post:  Thursday, October 6

2 Responses to The Micromanager and Her Weary Team

  1. Maryellen Blette says:

    I am really wondering now if I am a micromanager……HMMMM????

    • Revolutionary Assistant says:

      Some positions require a certain level of micromanagement – but that balance can be hard to find! Our next unit on team collaboration will give some great hints as to how to move in the other direction, so stay tuned!