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You sense a presence behind you somewhere, and in a feeble attempt to look busy your fingers fumble, hitting random keys. Your mind is bombarded with unnecessary excuses, reasons, rationalisations and a few odd answers to questions unasked. But before you break into a cold sweat, you should know the difference between management and micro-management!
If you are familiar with micro-management, then all you need is to know is how to deal with it. But for those still unaware of a practice rampant in offices the world over, micro-management is to manage with excessively detailed control of every part of a project. But definitions fail to define the numerous subtleties that accompany this.
Radha*, an accounts executive at a top advertising agency, felt that her boss was too dominant, and as a result was very stressed at work. Little did she realize, she was being micro-managed -- every call was questioned, every project overseen, every meeting dissected and every task analysed. She quit the job in the span of a few months, frustrated and strained. This is an extreme case if micro-management gone wrong. But if you can learn to recognise and deal with micro-management there's no reason you have to end up like Radha.
Everything is somehow getting smaller, and management is hitching a ride on this 'micro' revolution. A well-recognised term in science and economics, when applied to management, it changes the very fundamentals of a workplace. More detailed reports, more questions asked and the most invasive of all -- the watching. Cameras are bad enough (and that's if they are not there just for employee safety), but having someone watch over everything you do makes you feel caged.
It is indeed the prerogative of any manager or boss to delve into details, but minute scrutiny, coupled with excessive control are characteristics of a micro-manager. And no one likes an over meddlesome, super-controlling boss. Micro-management is usually a result of overconcern for detail, an increase in pressure for performance and, occasionally, insecurity. In rare cases, this behaviour is used as a tactic to eliminate unwanted employees. By creating a stressful work environment and standards that cannot be met, the employee, quits or is terminated.
All work and no play
Any organisation is always about the work, but this does not mean that work is all that one should do in office.
Productivity increases when the employees are happy (this is a proven fact), and every organisation tries various tactics to motivate employees. In conversation with a group of managers, they explained that micro-management creates a negative motivation, as it demoralises employees, thus being detrimental to the organisation.
Some telltale signs that you are being micro-managed
Okay, so everyone likes to be right, but a boss who believes he or she is always right irrespective of what others have to say, is just mistaken. Avoid unnecessary arguments, and try to be as tactful as you can while making your suggestions.
You know your job, and most of us are passionate about the professions we have chosen. But, when you have to give unnecessary details on simple tasks, and are further burdened with more details on the process than the actual outcome, it causes to you dislike your work.
You are always watched; you need to ask before you take any decision; you are never at your ease; you are overly conscious of your behaviour. No one likes to have a supervisor sit next to them and watch every little thing they do.
You are qualified for the job, but somehow, because of your manager you cannot perform the task as you wanted too. You also notice that others try to tell you what you should be doing, and worse still, how you should be doing it.
Your boss does not consider any advice, recommendation or suggestion on anything. The decision made is all encompassing and everyone has no choice but to follow.
You cannot prioritise your tasks since your schedule has already been decided by your boss.
There are ways to deal with micro-management before letting it drive you to a point where you have no other choice but to quit.
If you are part of a team where your boss is always watching you, or giving you unnecessary instruction on obvious tasks, or if you are afraid to try to lighten the air in office, and tend to perceive the office as a routine that you don't enjoy, then it's time to make a change.
Speak to your boss, asking him/ her to let you handle a project by yourself. Assure him/ her that you think you can handle the project on your own and that you will be sure to seek their guidance if you run into any obstacles. Be tactful and try not to come across like you are being defensive or like you are attacking your boss.
Make sure you have personal time at the office, even if this means you take five minutes off from work and watch the sunset or chat with a friend or maybe share a joke with a colleague. But remember, an excess of anything always creates a problem. So make sure these five-minute breaks don't happen every 10 minutes.
If you are a micro-manager, learn to let go. Learn to delegate tasks and distance yourself. Things will not fall apart just because you aren't handling every little job. Have faith in your team, and show them by letting them work independently. It's good to feel needed but micro-managing people will only cause stress and bitterness.
There are many methods to deal with micro-management. So if you are being micro-managed, or if you are a micro-manager, it is never too late to change the equation.
* Name changed to protect identity.
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