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Business & Real Estate

Why do we keep the micro-managers?

Jean on the Job

Micro-Managers waste their own time, as well as the time of peers, subordinates and bosses. We maintain these employees because they appear to be well organized, a trait we all crave from others.

We admire those who seem to have everything under control, particularly If their work overlaps some of our own responsibilities. Everyone believes his own organizational skills are flawed, so, of course, we desire this revered skill in our colleagues. It takes a long, expensive toll to discover that he is not as organized as he appears. He spends a lot of time talking about what should or could be done, with less time on the actual implementation phases. He loves to collect data and get ready.

Organizations keep these employees because they are usually not overly rebellious. They are, however, success impostors. They show an enthusiasm for quality. They talk about quality a lot. They certainly spot lack of quality in the work of others. They simply cannot live up to their own standards. Unfortunately, we don't find this out early enough. When we do try to give evaluations, a micro-manager can be so controlling that he can send the evaluator off on the wrong tangent.

Some of their subordinates do not complain because they are craving the judgment and measurement of a militant boss. These masochistic individuals relate to the micro-management of their parents or athletic coaches and believe they need the rigid structure to perform. The problem is that the manager does not give rewards for what he measured. Their people never do enough, and surely they don't do things according to instructions. If this micro-manager could explain WHY a task needs to be performed, he might get some cooperative and good work back. Instead, communication if often muffled with too much data, and rework is the order of the day and the century for his people.

When a problem is exposed, the micro-person will report on the incompetence of his employees or even his peers. He is not shy about his boss's failures either.

Jean Hollands, CEO, Growth & Leadership Center, author, Silicon Syndrome and Optimistic Organizations, is a management coach and corporate team-builder. Write to GLC, 1451 Grant Road, Mountain View 94040.

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