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Looking for a cure for overly analytical and micro managing bosses

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Looking for anonymous responses that could help someone pull away from a deep analytical management mindset and turn them into a dynamic people manager.  I would like to incorporate your great ideas into my blog, while validating my theory via your feedback.  I don't like to rely soley on my own opinion.  Thanks.


(Controller/Finance) |

A manager should be able to "manage" the deep analytical work of others and review the information at the top level. There needs to be trust built in to the data that is provided and those who prepare it to avoid the manager's involvement, if that is the case here. Communicate that it's the manager's job to supervise the work of others but no do it for them.

(Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis) |

I think the manager needs to introspectively figure out why they feel the need to mirco-manage.

I have had the luxury of working under a wide arrange of managerial styles. Early in my career, I worked for a gentleman that was an extreme micro manager. In hind sight, it was very good for me, because it helped me learn to better manage myself. As much as I loved working for that manager, at this point in my career, I can say for certain I would never do it again. As I grew my skills and business knowledge, the need to be micro-managed was out grown.

I think there are two basic reasons that managers tend to over micro-manage.

The first, is that they just aren't management material. Many people seem to think if you are good at doing a job, then it will translate into being good at managing people doing that job. That just isn't the case. Some people are great detail, hands on people, and others are better big picture, top down thinkers. Both are important, but the manager needs to honestly assess which they are.

The second reason was covered by the first commenter.’s just that simple. Trust and respect take time to develop, and they are a two way street. The manager needs to be able to trust their workers, and if they can't, they need an action plan to correct that situation.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Thank you. My difference of opinion is in the trust factor. The lack of trust issue is in the perception of the one who is being micro managed. The one being trodden on usually feels like they are purposely being mistrusted, and this is not the case, unless they have proven themselves untrustworthy in the past.

Making that shift from analytical step by step thinking to broad environmental thinking is a behavior change and a pattern of thought change.

Thank you for your input.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Would you be able to break the "ego issues" you mention down into more granularity?

Once someone told me that people who micro manage did not have the benefit of being trained by great supervisors so its not so much ego, but more about copying past behavior that they thought was successful in others. I'm still trying to understand the ego factor as well. It may be similar to the trust issues mentioned by someone else, that the person being stepped on perceives purposeful ego behavior but I'm wonder if the reality is fear and vibrado and not wanting to be questioned that causes the perception of ego issues.

What do you think?

(Manager of Accounting) |

I have found that when you can gently, carefully make them more aware of their micro-managing, they can start moving away from it.

For example, I was once yelled at because my time off had not been put on the bosses' calendar by the admin assistant. (I have no management of the assistant.) So, I asked the boss if they could share their calendar on Outlook, that I could always confirm that the admin assistant had done their job. My boss is very secretive about their Outlook, so this was not an attractive option.

I also said that I would be willing to carry the leave slip to the admin assistant, and watch over her until I could visually verify my time had been added to the bosses' calendar, and check back each day to make sure it had not been inadvertently erased.

My excessive "helpfulness" gave her pause, and I think she realized how her comments came across.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Thank you for sharing.

(Controller) |

I agree that micro managers have trust issues that generally won't go away unless their boss realizes it and helps them overcome it. It won't change from the bottom up because they don't trust anyone but themselves and no one can do it better than they can (even if they never get around to doing the task). I also believe as stated above, there are some deeper psych issues involved. Many micro managers I've seen are attention deficit, OCD and/or a little paranoid. Their boss needs to make the call on whether they help this person or suggest outside support.

Topic Expert
Barrett Peterson
Title: Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis
Company: TTX
(Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis, TTX) |

Individuals can be very difficult to change if past a certain age and with a success record with this bad habit. A large scope requires more delegation, and the "cost" of micro managing details is a major error on the strategic and other important duties of a manager. Fear of failure and repeated education can be motivators, depending on the history, and length of habit, of the "offender".

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Do you think its an age thing? I've seen it in many age groups and I think it has more to do with insecurity or fear of what might happen or that something has not been thought of and that causes the need to control everything. I do agree that the habit is lack of planning and time management.

(Regional Finance Business Partner) |

Honestly this is very simple. In order to be a manager you need a shift in values from being an individual contributor to being a manager. If you do not value the art of management you will never be a good manager.

As a manager you need to let go by delegating and empowering your team and last but not least as several others mentioned there needs to be trust between the team and the manager.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Good points. For many analytical thinkers the leap from "how to" to "who to" is difficult. If you have any tips that shortened your leap, that would be great input. Thank you for your answer.

(Regional Finance Business Partner) |

For me the biggest the block towards becoming a good manager is overcoming the fear of making mistakes. It is this fear that causes many managers to micro-manage.

This is especially the case if someone with a specialist mindset is suddenly promoted to general management because this person excelled within the specialist discipline. A specialist will always think he or she can do the work better than anyone else. So if you don't do it yourself you are certain it will be full of mistakes when you get it for review unless you micro managed the process.

I think we can all agree that making a mistake is very uncomfortable however how you treat the mistake will be a great determinant of whether or not you can be a good manager. Simply put you need to turn it into something positive and learn from the mistake rather than taking a disciplinary action towards the employee who made the mistake.

Besides that I think it is important to remember and learn from how we felt when we were working for a good manager vs a bad manager. Because you can be sure that your employees will experience similar feelings when working for you. Most of us will experience both before we get the chance ourselves to be a manager.

Jill Nickerson
Title: CFO
Company: In Transition
(CFO, In Transition) |

There are two sides to this detrimental coin. First, the micro manager is not able to focus on the larger picture issues they should be considering as a manager. Second, their employees are being stifled and will not perform at their best. Being micro managed creates fear and resentfulness in the employee.

If there is a specific employee the manager feels requires micro management, they should create a performance/training plan to bring that person up to speed and, if the employee can't make it, they should be let go.

One role of the manager is to constantly improve their department. Allowing employees to do their jobs and encouraging them to provide workflow improvements will increase department morale and take the department farther faster. Employee performance will actually improve. Then the manager is free to concentrate on positive changes, not how an employee executes their specific job.

Tony Krzysko
Title: Principal
Company: Exclaim Inc
(Principal, Exclaim Inc) |

Most of the "micro managers" that I have had the benefit (yes no typo) of working with have (had) severe egos and are certain that a successful result from subordinates is dependent upon their control and input. Problems arise and are directly related to the importance of the superior's position. The higher up, the more problems this causes. These types usually know what they want and how they want it. Problem is, everything is dependent upon them completing tasks.

Reasons for this in my experience are (other than ego):
1. Poorly hired subordinates
2. Poorly trained subordinates
3. Poorly developed company directives
4. Poorly developed position profiles/job descriptions

Note that in a smaller organization, usually the superior is at fault for not properly developing a strong organization. Usually its because they don't have time! :)

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Thank you for your answer. I agree with your points 1-4 from the outside, but from the inside those items are the very items the manager is hired to improve. The higher the title, yes, I have noticed also they are less willing to spend the necessary time to educate and re-train, as you mentioned they don't have time.

Today I notice that companies under hire rather than higher qualified candidates who will be ready for promotion to the next level. Its easier to hire the under qualified and coach them up to the next increment with or without a pay increase. The backlash is the manager of the under qualified team becomes overworked from constantly putting out fires and many times takes it out on the team, either by rachetting down on performance standards or micro managing. Its hard on the team because they simply do not have the experience to improve on their own.

I really appreciate your response because it has triggered a lot of great topic ideas for my blog. Excellent. Thank you for being so open.

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

I agree with the comments above, but I would add another wrinkle to the mix. If the micro-manager has superiors who expect them to know absolutely everything about all transactions and activity, it forces the manager to micro-view everything. I was in a situation where we had a great team, but I was ultimately put on the spot about single transactions and when I would state I needed to speak to someone to get the details, I would get read the riot act.

When a senior manager/owner expects too much from their managers, they put them in a terrible spot. The underling then feels their work is being unfairly scrutinized and they aren't able to grow professionally. The only people who stay in positions like this aren't the cream of the crop......

I was lucky to have a team who saw what was going on and we created tools to 'over communicate' without anyone feeling that I was breathing down their neck.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Wrinkles rock! Thank you. It can be very hard to satisfy detail questions when you are a great delegator. Congratulations on being a great delegator!

I have a great story about creating the tools of over-communication also. The upside of creating those tools is that your team benefits greatly from the self imposed monitoring of company activities, metrics, strategic moves, and eventually they can become a revered asset to the company.

At the end of the month I noticed that the three other managers in my peer group always spent a lot of time with the boss. I always felt isolated, not part of the group because he never called me in to talk about month end. He told me that he only talked to the ones he didn't trust to have their stuff together for the executives. I learned that my reward was higher pay for reducing his supervision over my team to nothing, he only called me if he got questions from the international parent. And when time came to decide who would be charged with managing the next national project over the 4 departments, I was the one who consistently got selected. Created a bunch of jealousy among the others, but its hard to give something huge to someone who can't manage their own team without supervision.

Even managers have managers.

I had a very hard time adjusting back to a micro-manager after that experience.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |


Thank you for your input.
Topic areas that will appear on my blog in the future from this will be....

1. For managers: Add trust building to your expertise - it's not you, it's them.
2. For staff: What to do if your manager doesn't exhibit trust for your work.
3. For managers: Leash your ego - no one asked for a celebrity interview.
4. For everyone: The value of peer-envy when respect is unavailable.
5. For everyone: Interview questions that reveal the dirt before accepting the job.


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