A Conversation with the Micromanager Who Wants to Feel Important

By | November 10, 2014

Kool Derby

Working for a micromanager can be difficult for many people, especially those with a creative and innovative spirit. Micromanagement is disliked by many because it’s analogous to rigor and bureaucracy. While a centralized approach has advantages, there are also notable drawbacks.

The micromanager can be spotted from miles away. This person is usually consumed with busy work, and oftentimes with nonproductive activities. In essence, the micromanager is the “king of checklists.” He might get little done during the day, but each box on his list will have a checkmark on it.

Rita has worked at Dakota Manufacturing for the past 10 years. After earning her MBA, she was promoted to Senior Quality Engineer, a position requiring many meetings with specialists from across the organization. Several months ago, Dakota hired Daniel to oversee the Quality Control department, which means that Rita falls under his supervision.

Daniel was hired after an intensive external search. Interestingly, he was given the opportunity with Dakota Manufacturing while unemployed. His previous company, Bama Construction, underwent big layoffs, and Daniel was caught in this wave.

A progress report meeting between Rita and Daniel …

Daniel: Rita, thank you for seeing me today.

Rita: Sure, Daniel. What’s first on the agenda?

Daniel: Rita, you know me already. I love agendas!

Rita: Yes. I’ve learned that about you. [chuckle]

Daniel: Were you able to meet with everyone in your department? Do you have weekly meetings with them?

Rita: I met with 12 of the 15 team members last week to get an update on their work. However, we’re so busy with the quality control efforts regarding the new freight elevator gates. The design is innovative, using cutting-edge technology. So, I was unable to meet with Christie, Mark, and Martin. I did, however, receive a status update report from each via email, and all work is on schedule.

Daniel: Okay, Rita. You know how important it is for you to have the weekly meetings with each team member. This is something I promised to our upper management team.

Rita: Daniel, I’m not so sure we need to physically meet with every person on the team. In some cases, our work is too busy, and many of us are on the shop floor taking care of pressing problems.

Daniel: There are no two ways about it, Rita. I have to know that you meet with each person, even if you chat about routine work.

Rita: Most of the work around here is project-related, and we have a team meeting every Thursday at 2 p.m. In some cases, those meetings go several hours, and I have the chance to get feedback from everyone. In essence, I know what every person on the team is doing.

Daniel: Right, Rita. The issue here is that I promised our management team that you would meet individually with everyone on your team. This is something that I expect of every manager in my department.

Rita: Okay. I will do the best I can.

Daniel: Thank you, Rita. Our meeting is done. I can now update my meeting checklist. Another big accomplishment for the week!

Rita: Right. Way to go.

The issue here is that Daniel is concerned about busy work, which fails to benefit the bottom line. The top management team can be fooled by micromanagers because they give the appearance that work is getting done. Of course, the downside is significant, especially because creativity, ingenuity, and imagination are sacrificed.

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