Jean on the Job
This employee cannot do succession planning because he is so consumed with doing everything right that he knows no one else can do his job as well as he can. So he does no coaching, assuming no one can learn. He puts off his boss because he judges that the boss has not taken every detail into consideration. The boss loses productive time from him because the micro-manager must double-think all decisions. The boss loses collaboration time with his peer level because this employee can't give him incremental goals or status reports unless everything is in order. The classic micro-manager manages his boss, colleagues and subordinates. "I'm not going to make this request in the Prince Robert's form" bellows his peer, the marketing manager.
Peers often cut micro out of the collaborative loop, and meetings when they can, because they see him as a block to creativity and productivity. In this process they may miss important data which the withholding controller squirrels away. He seems to be afraid of giving away too much information to the perilous peer strata. This invites confusion, frustration and often unconsciously sabotages real opportunity for a collaborative effort. His colleagues can't live with him or without him. In each case, the company pays.
What to Do With a Micro-Manager:
1. Name the problem. Tell your micro-manager exactly what you see. You will have to be scrupulous and meticulous in the feedback in order to get his attention. Name the exact behavior, which frustrated others. Calculate the overall cost of lost time in the others and in extra work which only the micro-manager was interested in having.
2. Create consequences and rewards. Reinforce the slightest change in behavior. When his list is shorter than usual, the level of detail is not so thorough, when the report is a little less rigid, compliment him. Suggest you know that is hard to give up the last 20 percent precision, but remind him that you are glad he did only the important part of the project.
3. Offer consequences for continued waste of company time and resources. Use reviews, promotion possibilities and most of all, use diminishment of responsibilities as wake-up calls. The controlling micro-manager loves new challenges. He would really like all new technical tasks assigned to him, so when you hold back opportunities, he will get the message. ~ I didn't give you this job, because I knew you would make it too burdensome for others, and you would take too long to complete it. I know you would have liked to do it, but was too expensive to use you on this project.
4. Keep reminding your micro-manager that you are not encouraging sloppy work. You are wanting him or her to prioritize his time and resources and apply energy where it offers the most company rewards. When your micro-person catches himself with prioritizing and checks with you on what he should not be doing, you probably have a manager in the making. Assign tasks that do call for accuracy in which he or she can feel the rewards of a meticulous approach. Then explain the tasks that call for a more pragmatic approach.
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.