I don’t suppose anyone sets out to micromanage others. Not as in “I’ve got to tell this person what to do and how to do it every minute of the working day.” Yet, I see it – or something quite like it – happening most places I go. Of course, non-technical managers have more of a challenge in telling technical staff how to do technical things. But senior tech leads and technical development managers seem quite adept at that.
But I can relate to folks who feel under some kind of pressure to get results. And some empathy for those who believe – however mistakenly – that micromanaging is a viable way to see those results realised.
I can relate, because when in similar managerial or supervisory roles, I too have felt the pressure. More specifically, the lurking, silent pressure to act and behave in certain ways towards others.
I’ve been in Adhoc organisations where the pressure to fight fires all day every day was palpable. Where the owner’s unspoken expectations were that preparation, thinking ahead, and discipline were not worth the candle, and that firefighting was a perfectly normal and rational response to things going awry.
I’ve been in Analytic organisations where there was a constant pressure to coerce staff, to been seen to be using tactics like fear, obligation, guilt and shame to achieve “results”. Where the deleterious effects of such tactics were unknown or ignored. But knowing better, myself, only led to more pressure, as peers hinted at their “disappointment” that I treated people humanely, that I involved staff in decisions, that I took an interest in them – as individuals with needs.
In other words, the prevailing mindset in an organisation, manifest in the expectations of others, can lead inexorably to being micromanaged oneself. It doesn’t have to be managers that micromanage people. The most pernicious micromanagement can come from the pressures imposed by the system, and the way the work works.
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
~ Bruce Lee
Red Bead Experiment ~ Website