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Micromanagement destroys careers

A micromanager creates other micromanagers, and the latter become, in turn, carbon copies of those who shaped and guided them to a position of leadership. They wish to control everything, and, in most cases, they end up doing all the work for the team. Micromanagers destroy a voice before it even emerges, and they subdue any form of professional independence the employee might have. A micromanaging leader is a teamless leader.

To be clear from the start: we are responsible for our actions in our daily lives, at work or in our projects. If we make a mistake, we must be held accountable for it. In a professional context, we should be exposed to situations where we can make a mistake, and of course, in case we make one, to take full responsibility for it, accepting feedback and solutions along the way or after the task was done.

Because broadly, a manager’s or any kind of leader’s role is to delegate, to guide and offer feedback, to motivate, and generally help with the professional development of his employee within the company, and also outside of it; moreover, he should support and continue representing his team further on.

However, somewhere among the cogs of this mechanism based on a few simple principles, insidiously sneaking in is the micromanagement — which, in turn, hides a complete lack of faith in the team, and, in some cases, other problems of a personal nature, with which the employee has no connection. Pressure can indeed create more pressure, just as in this domino effect, micromanagement can also end up creating micromanagement. Either way, micromanagement could destroy careers, because it suppresses on the one hand, but it also creates lookalike professionals on the other hand.

Micromanagers destroy a voice before it even emerges, and they subdue, under all possible aspects, any form of professional independence of the employee, who is in fact an expert in his field. Some even end up specifically doubting the team’s expertise in order to indirectly justify their damaging behavior before their superiors or their own team.

As many others, throughout my career, I also had to deal with the implications of micromanagement, and recently — I had to face what was probably one of the most serious situations I have ever encountered. I was subjected to a damaging, nearly sickening leadership behavior, from a man who was supposed to inspire me, to give me direction, and to finally approve of my decisions, offering feedback and guidance.

But, in parallel, in order to keep an environment in which his micromanagement and his damaging habits — where no one would dare raise their heads, fight back, or have a different opinion, he started creating tension between the members of the team. I have been working since I was 19, but I’ll admit: I had never before been part of a team where my colleagues be subject to such a strain that they would almost burst into tears.

I did not accept such behavior in the first place, and I tried to explain, with arguments, why micromanagement and all of its direct implications and the risks that came along with them would hurt the team. And it would hurt not only the team, but especially the goal, which, I am certain we all had in mind and wished to accomplish. The only solution was for me to leave the team. Had I stayed, I would have been approving of such behavior, and thus, indirectly, contributing to the altering of a cause in which I still believe. And in such a team — respectively environment — built so that one cannot grow on his own — in the context of performance — or its lack thereof, there would have been no other solution.

I left behind people who were incapable of making a decision on their own and assume responsibility for it, colleagues who had no idea how to offer or ask for feedback, and to then underpin their work based on said feedback. I left behind a leader who was preoccupied with the details of his team’s work, with astronomical expectations compared to what he was offering in return, a leader who, eventually, instead of forming professionals, being patient, respecting their work and guiding them throughout the process — would prefer doing everything on his own, abusively taking over the work started by his team. He wanted to know everything, to do everything, and all this time, he would also raise his voice.

There is no other solution than to leave a leader who is micromanaging. Perhaps we will try to fight it, to argument our work or gain his trust, but in most cases — this will be in vain. The causes of those who are micromanaging are inherent, and have nothing to do with professional performance; they can belong to personal issues upon which the team, by its very nature, cannot intercede. And the team should also not stand by a manager, who, by his very nature, will not allow for professional development.

A micromanager creates other micromanagers, and the latter become, in turn, carbon copies of those who shaped and guided them to a position of #leadership. 

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Laurențiu Ion

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