No one likes an overbearing manager. They’re too imposing at work, too obsessed with perfection and making sure nothing goes wrong, and you can tell they’re only in the job for themselves. Somehow, it’s possible for them to be watching your every move and tweaking your work while never being around when you need them. Overbearing managers are the worst kind, but even worse than that is that managers themselves often don’t know how imposing they’re being. If you think you might be one of those managers, stop and read these tips and see how you can avoid becoming a manager employees hate.
You probably know the term micromanaging because you’ve probably been on the other end of a micromanager boss yourself. The Boss who’s checking in with you every twenty minutes to see how you’re doing, even after you’ve been with the company for years. The one who not only keeps tracks of which tasks employees are working on, but talks to them about their progress on every single task. Employees don’t like it, and it makes for terrible management, since by going from employee to employee to see how they’re doing, you’re wasting your own time and impeding on theirs.
It also doesn’t do anyone any good. Studies have shown that micromanaged employees are noticeably less productive than their autonomous counterparts. When you’re always looking over someone’s shoulder and making sure nothing’s going wrong, you’re preventing them from learning through their mistakes. Work with your employees to identify processes and patterns and then help them adhere to those for quality control.
If 70% of learning is on-the-job training that only comes through repeated practices, that’s a large portion of employee growth your micromanagement is stagnating. Let employees make mistakes. It may hurt at first, but it’s better for you both long-term.
By avoiding micromanaging, you allow employees to learn for themselves and better productivity!
Know What You Can’t Change
If you’re the kind of overbearing manager we’re talking about, take this to heart: there are some things you simply cannot do. You can’t predict the market every time. You can’t beat Murphy’s law. You will not be able to control everything, and inevitably, something wrong will happen, whether you’re there to oversee it or not. I would be easy to think of this conclusion as something to mourn, but it’s actually something you can accept and embrace. Doing so will not only make you a better manager, but a happier person.
Studies have shown there are two main ways of thinking about control, Primary and Secondary. People who prefer the Primary want to eradicate uncertainty by attempting to change every aspect of what they do. If they see someone else doing something they consider wrong, they will attempt to take the process over themselves instead of working with the other person to fix it. People who prefer Secondary acknowledge that bad things will happen and attempt to work around them. Those who opt for Secondary control tend to be much happier.
If you want to be a better manager, don’t try to avoid mistakes. Learn that they will happen, and work through them. When giving feedback, emphasize the fix over the problem. Ask that employees give you suggestions about moving forward instead of excuses about why mistakes happened. If you have been “shielding” underperforming employees from supervisors or clients, allow them a little more leeway and let their feedback add to your own to fix issues. Start small of course.
Reduce Your Own Presence
A manager doesn’t have to look over an employee’s shoulder to impose their presence. There are some managers that emirate certain vibes, get people to feel a certain way about their jobs no matter how often they’re in the office. Much of this has to do with ego. When a manager comes off to their employees as self-serving or uncaring, employees can begin to feel out of touch with company goals and begin to feel disillusioned.
You may not be around as often, but your attitude about business can be as overbearing as your presence, especially when you treat employees as a means to an end. Graham Scrivener, Managing Director at the Forum Corporation, describes these kinds of managers in more detail:
"They're often too busy chasing their own goals to check whether the team has a clear understanding of their own role requirements and how this fits with the overall objectives of the organisation. Nor do they take time to explain the standards of work expected and are surprised when the employee fails to deliver expectations. This lack of interest breeds a climate of uncertainty, which soon turns to resentment if the boss is off glory hunting, taking credit for the team's work rather than recognising and rewarding individuals."
Good managers aren’t in it only for themselves. When you aggrandize yourself, you devalue your team. Build recognition programs that allow employees to feel like their contribution matters, and reduce the amount of credit you take for team success. Instead of constant presence, institute a goal alignment platform to help the entire company see the progress employees are making (or not) and allow community policing to take the place of your ulcer.
There’s a line between being too involved in an employee’s day and being so involved in your own career that you can’t empathize with the people working for you. Both are, in their own way, overbearing. By easing off the micromanagement, acknowledging mistakes instead of trying to get rid of them, and knowing when to give recognition, you’ll be a much less overbearing manager.
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