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In the world of work and leadership, micro-management is a term that carries negative connotations. It refers to the tendency of individuals to excessively control and monitor the work of their subordinates, often to the point of stifling creativity and autonomy.
While micro-managers are typically seen as a hindrance to productivity and employee morale, it is essential to understand the psychological reasons that drive this behaviour.
In this week’s article, I will explore some of the underlying factors contributing to micro-management tendencies and shed light on the complex nature of this often-frustrating managerial style.
Why do people micro-manage?
1. Fear of Failure
Micro-managers often harbour a deep-seated fear of failure. They believe that it will inevitably go wrong unless they oversee every detail of a task or project.
This fear stems from a lack of trust in their own abilities, as well as a lack of confidence in their team members.
By closely controlling every aspect, micro-managers hope to minimise the risk of failure and maintain a sense of security.
2. Need for Control
Human beings have an inherent need for control, and micro-managers take this desire to an extreme level.
They feel compelled to be involved in every decision and process, believing that they alone possess the knowledge and expertise to ensure things are done correctly.
The need for control can stem from a variety of factors, such as perfectionism, a desire for power, or a fear of losing authority.
Micro-managers often exhibit perfectionistic tendencies, expecting flawless execution and precision in every task.
They set impossibly high standards for themselves and others, and any deviation from these standards is seen as a personal failure.
Perfectionism can be driven by a fear of criticism or a desire to maintain a pristine reputation.
Micro-managers may struggle to delegate or trust others because they believe that only they can achieve the level of perfection they seek.
4. Lack of Trust
Trust is the foundation of healthy work relationships, yet micro-managers struggle to place trust in their team members.
This lack of trust can be rooted in various factors, such as past experiences of betrayal, a fear of being outperformed, or a belief that others are incapable of meeting their standards.
Consequently, micro-managers feel compelled to oversee every task to ensure it aligns with their expectations.
Micro-management often reflects an underlying sense of insecurity. Micro-managers may fear being replaced or overshadowed by their subordinates.
They view the success of their team members as a threat rather than an accomplishment. Insecurity can drive them to excessively monitor and control their employees to maintain a sense of superiority and indispensability.
Understanding the psychological reasons behind micro-management is crucial for both managers and employees. It allows for empathy and compassion, as well as the development of strategies to address and mitigate this behaviour.
Managers inclined to micro-manage can benefit from self-reflection, cultivating trust in their team, and delegating responsibilities appropriately.
On the other hand, employees can foster open communication with their managers, demonstrate their competence, and build trust through consistent performance.
Organisations can foster healthier work environments that promote autonomy, collaboration, and productivity by addressing the psychological factors contributing to micro-management tendencies.
In next week’s post, I will discuss managing a micro-manager. So, if you haven’t signed up yet to receive my weekly newsletter straight to your inbox, hit the ‘Subscribe’ button at the top of the page so that you don’t miss it!
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