Thursday, May 30, 2019

Are You Working for a Micromanager?

In my long and varied career I’ve worked for all types of managers. Lazy ones, ‘hands off’ ones, tough ones and perfect ones. Some were leaders while others couldn’t lead a horse to water. But the absolute worse type I’ve worked under was the micromanager.


Micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes and/or controls the work of his/her subordinates or employees. The worst I had was the Sales Manager of a large modular home factory.

Ride-Alongs with him were always two days of him explaining in great detail what he expected and how he was going to stay on top of my progress. I soon learned that all the sales reps had similar experiences. It wasn’t just me.

Being a micromanager is generally considered to be a negative influence on sales team members, mainly due to the fact that it shows a lack of freedom in the workplace.

They're always looking over your shoulder. Most do it in person but many micromanagers are now doing it online. Micromanagers like to know what everyone is doing all the time. With advancements in CRM programs some micro-maniacs are starting their day reviewing each sales reps emails, scrutinizing responses to builders to make sure they are following his/her ideal rules.

Projects and assignments are given and then taken away. With their ‘over the shoulder’ approach to management expect one or more of your projects or even your builders to be reassigned to someone else.

Individual creativity and innovation is not allowed under their ‘leadership’. They will point you out at weekly sales meetings for not being a team player. They will not allow anyone to take the leadership role from them and will make it their duty to curtail independent thinkers.

They act like a manager, but not a leader. Real managers push and support their sales teams while micromanagers pull their team along the only road he/she wants them to travel.

A micromanager is usually irritated when an employee makes a decision without consulting them first. That's true even if the decision is within their level of expertise! A good percentage of employees feel that managers don't help them perform at their best.

Turns out sometimes micromanaging is a good thing, especially in brand new companies where things are still being sorted out on the fly. In those situations it is definitely better for one person to be the sole guide to early success. With the number of new modular and panel plants about to come on board, a strong leader with a micromanagement history may be just what is needed. Most of them will be replaced by different managers as soon as the company gains stability and cash flow improves. This is probably the best and maybe the only time to actually hire a micromanager.

The irony is that micromanaging provides the manager with a sense of control, but at the same time robs the employee of it. It is no surprise that the number one reason employees leave their companies is ineffective managers.

Micromanaging, in some cases, can be a form of bullying when workers feel threatened or belittled by the actions of their managers.

I still recall my worst weekly sales meeting just as a housing downturn began. The owner started off the meeting telling us that sales everywhere were down, not just at his factory and he understood that we would have to work harder than ever to keep the production line moving profitably. He knew we were heading into tough times in the modular housing industry.

He then turned the meeting over to the our Sales “Micromanager” who shut the door, looked at all of us and said, “I don’t give a damn what he said, you basta*ds better get me my sales or your days here are numbered. I will be checking with each of you every day to make sure you are working your ass off to get sales.”

The next day, three of us quit.

Gary Fleisher (the Modcoach) is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker. modcoach@gmail.com

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