I just wrote this on LinkedIn as a response to a post that stated, “A micro-manager is someone you pay to watch your top talent walk away.”

My response:

Allow me to charge this windmill. It’s easy, fun, and popular to label bosses as micro-managers. It’s harder but more productive to be clear about where you think you need more freedom in your job and where you think you need more guidance (yes…more leadership from above). A cookie-cutter doesn’t work (such as blaming people for “micro-managing” as if less management is the only answer). New people need more structure, experienced people less. The art of leading and following is to thoughtfully converse about the right blend of freedom and structure for each person and group. It will be ever changing and requires dialogue!

Here I add:

“Micro-manager” is a judgement, not a behavior.

Allow me to digress. Anyone who is familiar with John Wallen’s concept of Behavior Description should understand what I mean. If you are not familiar with Wallen, search this blog and/or let me know and I will send some free materials!

If you think you are being micro-managed, then there are specific tasks that you think you are being supervised too tightly on. The cure is not to silently blame and allow tension to build. the cure is to talk with your supervisor about what you want in terms of more freedom and less structure. That is the dance of leading and following necessary in all authority relationships, as Kurt Lewin’s leadership model and research shows (that can also be found by searching this blog!).

Micro-managing seems like a thing because so many accuse their bosses of it. When lots of people are saying something it seems more valid! Of course there is no doubt some varying amount of truth to it, as there is in any stereotype. And as with any stereotype, it divides people instead of bringing them together. Stereotypes are inherently victim thinking, blaming the other person or group. “It’s not me…it’s them!” “If you knew them you would know what I mean!” “Your advice might make sense with most people, but not with my boss!”

Don’t settle for blaming the boss, even if all your peers are bonding in agreement. Self-differentiate. How would you want to be treated if you were the boss? Figure out the specifics of your situation and talk to your boss about what you want. You may not get what you want, but talking about it is the only way you will ever create the possibility. You both deserve that chance!

About crosbyod

Crosby & Associates OD is a catalyst for high performance & morale. Our methods are a unique blend grounded in research and decades of experience. In the spirit of Kurt Lewin, the founder of OD, as we partner with you in the present we transfer our methods to you so you are independent in the future. Learn more at www.crosbyod.com
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1 Response to Micro-managing

  1. Joseph George says:

    Apt. Clear. Relevant.

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