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10.21.2017

Living in micromanaging

I don't often give career advice but I do have some in me. And if you have subordinates, you need to read this article:

https://www.fastcompany.com/40481089/stress-is-making-you-micromanage-which-is-making-everything-worse

I know some people don't like the term "subordinates" so let's rephrase it as: "If you have people in your life for whom your actions have a direct (and perhaps debilitating) impact on their income and career..."

Want to go back to the word "subordinates" now? I thought you might.

I've had plenty of managers in my 21 years of full-time employment and working several years part-time before that. Probably shy of half have been textbook micromanagers (the type to read that Fast Company article as a how-to manual) and one of my biggest regrets in life is that I was one, too. Only at times... but a character flaw that only shows up when things are stressful is about as major a character flaw as you can have. What made me fail as a micromanager (yes, there are "successful" ones) was that I couldn't get past the reality of tampering with people's lives and livelihoods. I made a smooth and positive transition, with my soul mostly intact.

I've learned over the years that the micromanaging types are the first to dismiss you with "It's just a job." Truer words were never spoken; when they slot you in as a cog in the machine, they'll give you their orders and they really don't care if you're unhappy, unhealthy, or if you just up and leave.

That gets dangerous on a number of levels.

First, an old truism: "The only thing worse than an employee who quits and leaves is an employee who quits and stays." In the union world you encounter the work-slowdown technique of "working to the rule." If you think you have a lot to micromanage now? Just wait until that happens. People can "obey your commands" without "doing their job," and now you've just handed your HR department a mess.

Worse is the volatile environment that unfolds when you have a micromanager working under a visionary. "In order to accomplish our leader's vision of our product installed in every household so pollution is reduced by 90% by 2020, I need you to have your TPS report on my desk each day by 3:00." If you're an employee who sees that happening around or to you, and if your micromanager isn't going anywhere? Get out. Get out, get out. Or accept that your department/division/unit is going to fail and you'll be leaving on someone else's terms.

From the article: "(R)esist the urge to interfere unless they ask for your help or notice something unethical or dangerous. Done good enough by your team is better than done perfectly (does that even exist?) by you."

My micromanager readers will respond, "I'm not interfering! I 'trust their judgment' and I'm just... correcting them and informing them of my expectations." 'Nuff said.

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