When a manager does not trust the capacities of his team, they begin to take over the responsibilities that should be delegated. Or they need to check each step that each team member takes. Hence, slowly, they become overwhelmed with tasks to the extent that they do not physically achieve to do the key things in their work or become a bottleneck for decision-making. The job is suffering; the projects are delayed, the stress increases. At this point, there are two paths micromanagers take:
- They either get back to their team members and re-delegate. These are usually tasks that do not have important implications for the job.
- The second approach is to understand that the team they are working with are simply not capable, have no competences to work and make the definitive decision to replace them with more capable people as soon as possible. After that, they continue to do things the same old way.
If employees recognise that their manager has a controlling leadership style and find a way to cope with it, some results in the team may also come in the short term. In the long run, continuous interference in the work process leads to a decline in the productivity of the team primarily because this leadership style affects the motivation of work directly.
The micromanagerial approach mostly characterises people who are perfectionists and want to do the job in the best possible way. These are usually highly responsible people who have done a lot of work in their career to achieve results. Most often, they are excellent specialists in their area of expertise that really achieve good results. Also, they are people who have a dose of fear that poor results will lead to extremely bad consequences and perceive this outcome as catastrophic. It is as if a wrong decision, or an error in analysis, will cause their superiors to evaluate them as incompetent, which is not an option for them at all. And so, as soon as a task seems demanding, a micromanager decides that it will be better to do it themselves than waste time on corrections, experience stress while watching their colleagues approaching the task in a wrong way, and, God forbid, their superiors will think they are irresponsible by not being informed during each step and every detail of the task.
Unfortunately, when someone has predispositions for this work approach, it is very difficult to come out of the distrust they have towards others. Even when they bring someone they consider competent into the team, there is a possibility that they will feel threatened and then the situation can get even worse. Then they will decide not to delegate out of fear that they might be perceived as incompetent, which is the worst punishment for such people.
If this behaviour occurs during the first leadership role in one’s career, there is a strong chance that it will be overcome. People with developed emotional intelligence see that their leadership style affects employees, and they work on a personal change to be better leaders. The key thing is to realise that a management role implies only mutual results, not a single promotion at the expense of others, nor the takeover of other people’s merit. A good manager puts their employees first and gives them development opportunities through delegating more demanding tasks. Mistakes are a precondition for further development. Without them, no one would learn how to do something better or how to behave in different circumstances. Until we see the result of our decision, we cannot be sure that it was the right one – no one was born smart but gained their knowledge through attempts and the feedback of others.
If you have recognised some of the micromanagerial characteristics in yourself, or with your superior, do not despair. The fact that such behaviour exists in the organisation is a much more serious problem for the company because that means that there is a high probability that blame culture reins there and it is important who is the culprit, and not how the problem will be resolved. Of course, if you feel that the atmosphere is too toxic and that you do not actually have opportunities for personal development, you might better look for another job. Because it takes time for a change to take place, and above all, there has to be a willingness for it. And if the company management lacks emotional intelligence, then pointing fingers and taking credits for other people’s merit is likely to retain for a while, that is, until the leadership position has been taken by someone who worked on their own personal development, learned through their own and other people’s mistakes, and accepted the fact that there is no progress without the courage to try and make mistakes.