The Highlands Company Blog

Why Is Your Boss a Micro-Manager?

why is boss a micro manager

why is boss a micro managerWe’ve all been there. You are assigned a project. You do the job and feel pretty good about it until your boss swoops in and picks it all apart. Or, maybe your boss doesn’t even let you get that far. Maybe she assigns a project and then checks in so often you feel she doesn’t trust you.

This is classic micromanagement, and it’s difficult for both the manager and the employee.

For the manager, he increases his workload. Not only does he have his job to do, but now he’s got the jobs of his team to do, too. Eventually, his employees become disengaged and progress halts. He can’t do it all. No one can.

For you, being the micro-managed one, this can play a role in low self-confidence, poor job satisfaction, and little motivation. The solution, while never clear cut, starts with understanding why your boss manages this way.

Understanding the Specialist at Work

Most everyone could micro-manage from time to time. When you feel strongly about a subject or know a lot about a subject, it’s difficult to step aside. But we’re not talking about the casual micro-manager. We’re talking about the boss who micromanages as a matter of regular practice.

The chronic micro-manager is usually a Specialist, or someone who takes the foot wide, mile deep approach to most subject matter. The flip side of this Natural Ability is the Generalist, someone who takes a mile wide, one-foot deep approach. Generalists usually find it easier to delegate and allow others to see a project through.

Personal Style, which is the term The Highlands Company uses to categorize the Specialist-Generalist continuum (along with Extroversion and Introversion), is measured with precision in the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB). But without taking the HAB, you may be able to make an assumption based on common traits.

specialist and generalist natural abilitiesYour boss may be a Specialist if she

  • Expects everyone will want to do the same thing she does.
  • Feels it is not important to have a consensus from the group.
  • Thinks differing viewpoints are criticisms directed at her personally.
  • Has a unique perspective on a lot of things.
  • Works alone often.
  • Finds it difficult to separate work from other aspects of life.

How to Handle Your Micro-Managing Boss Who Is a Specialist

Appreciate your boss’s natural abilities. It’s likely he is not trying to micro-manage and make your job difficult. As a Specialist, he sees things through his own unique perspective.

Next, introduce the HAB to your team. If you all understand where you fall on the Specialist-Generalist continuum, communication and workflow will become simpler to navigate…and that includes your boss!

What to Do if You Recognize Micro-Managing Tendencies in Yourself

Since the hallmarks of being a Specialist include becoming an expert, working autonomously and independently, and digging into the details, find something to work on that’s just yours. For example, keep a “pet” project for yourself (to create or develop) for a year before turning it over to the group to implement and manage. For example, creating and setting up a mentoring program that then transitions to HR for managing. Or, apply your expertise to something outside the job. The important thing to managing strong abilities is to have an outlet.

Now that you know more about micro-managing and being a Specialist, do you think you are one? If you want to know for sure, contact The Highlands Company!

Image credit: Innovate360