My Way or the Highway
Learn how to deal effectively with a micromanager
Way or the Highway—the Micromanagement Survival Guide -
Four out of five workers say they've been a victim of micromanagement.
Are you a victim or a culprit? Here are the five defining behaviors of
a micromanager, from the new book "My Way or the Highway," by Harry E.
Chambers writes, "Basically, micromanagement is the excessive, unwanted,
counterproductive interference and disruption of people or things." It
occurs when influence, involvement and interaction begin to subtract value
from people and processes. It is the perception of inappropriate interference
in someone else's activities, responsibilities, decision making and authority."
How to Spot and Avoid Micromanagement
'Em or Lose 'Em - Because finding the ideal person for every workplace
position has become an increasingly difficult task, the retention of top
employees has become every manager's concern. Love 'Em or Lose 'Em,
by organizational-development specialists Beverly L. Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans,
proposes that this "race for talent" can be effectively run only by those
who adopt programs and policies that truly support their personnel. It then
shows how to do so, even in organizations reluctant to participate actively.
- Micromanagers exercise raw power.
They love to flex their muscles—asserting their power and authority
just because they can. While unable to subordinate themselves, they
control others with an uncompromising sense of entitlement and self-interest.
- Micromanagers dictate time.
They like to control and manipulate others' time. They don't trust people
to assess their own workload, so they routinely dictate priorities and
distort deadlines. And while they guard their own time with an iron
fist, they're notorious for interrupting others, misusing and mismanaging
meetings and perpetuating crises.
- Micromanagers control how work gets done.
They want everything to be done their way. After all, the boss knows
best—or so he or she believes. They dismiss others' knowledge, experience
and ideas—no matter how good—then hover over them to make sure they're
doing things “right.”
- Micromanagers require undue approvals.
They share responsibility, but not authority. As the “bottlenecks” of
the workplace, they allow no one to move forward without their approval—even
on routine or time-sensitive matters.
- Micromanagers demand frequent and unnecessary reports.
They are driven to know what's going on. They monitor workers to death—requiring
a stream of needless reports that focus on activity over outcomes.
How can you deal effectively with a micromanager? Chambers offers the following
Hiring, and Keeping Peak Performers: Every Manager's Guide by Harry
- Find out his agenda. Determine what's really important to
him, then work with him—not against him.
- Take the information initiative. Don't wait to be asked for
information. Find out what the micromanager needs to feel confident
and comfortable, then get it to him—ahead of time.
- Practice the “art” of communication. No one fears inertia more
than the micromanager. Show that you're in motion on priority projects
by communicating in three specific terms— awareness, reassurance and
- Stay clear on expectations. Clarify your agreements in a trail
of memos and e-mails.
- Renegotiate priorities. Come up with a simple, straightforward
method—such as a numerical or a color-coded system—for renegotiating
the ever-shifting priorities.
- Be preemptive on deadlines. The micromanager loves to impose
and even distort deadlines.Be the first to talk—offering a timeline
for when you can do a task (not when you can't).
- Play by the rules. The micromanager enjoys catching people
in the act. Avoid being an easy target and play by the rules—particularly
on policies regarding time and technology.
- Learn from the “best practices” of others. The micromanager
backs off with some people more than others. Watch those individuals
closely to learn the secrets of their success.
- Choose your battles. The micromanager will go to war on every
issue. Don't try to match him. Instead, choose the battles that are
most important to you.
Guides managers, training them in the fine points of recruitment and hiring,
with the goal of selecting and keeping high-quality, productive employees.
Shows how to motivate people to stay using benefits packages and other incentives,
and how to use the interview process as a way to gauge the potential of
Finally, Chambers advises everyone to take a hard look in the mirror. If
you think you might glimpse the face of a micromanager staring back at you,
place your tongue firmly in cheek and ask yourself the following:
You might be a micromanager, if…
- You wrote the book on MBHH (Managing By Hovering and Hounding).
- You don't trust your people to do the jobs you hired them to do.
- You never take a vacation because “something might happen at work.”
- You have hosted a conference call when on vacation.
- You pass notes to employees under the restroom stall door.
- You put a time clock on the restroom door.
- Employees celebrate your retirement—for months after you leave.
- You follow employees during their drive to work in order to find a
- You are involved in day-to-day decisions at two or more levels in
- You have ever called an employee who was on vacation to see how things
- You believe that allowing employees to make decisions is a threat
to your livelihood.
- You think that forming teams means employees will gather together
while you tell them what you want them to do.
- You have received more than one copy of Chambers's book…anonymously.
'Effective Communication Skills for Scientific and Technical Professionals'
by Harry E. Chambers - Available
EVERY EMPLOYED PERSON NEEDS THIS BOOK 'My Way or the Highway—the
Micromanagement Survival Guide' - Available
at Amazon Those who micromanage others will learn how damaging
their supervisory straightjacket is to morale and productivity. Those
who report to micromanagers will learn tactful strategies for changing
their employer's habits and expectations. As the subtitle promises, this
book serves as The Micromanagement Survival Guide.
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