Don’t Be A Micromanager From Hell

In the deepest recesses of my soul I know I’m a micromanager. Or to be more precise, a perfectionist, workaholic, micromanager that is fortunate enough to make a self employed living so I can keep the obsessive tendencies tightly locked away when working with others but let them run free when I’m flying solo and things need to get done. But it’s these delightfully compulsive tendencies that let me love what I do.

Nonetheless, a micromanager’s love can quickly turn into another man’s chained-in-the-basement Misery-esque workplace hell and the moment you’re fortunate enough to rise out of the ranks of entry level purgatory and are made responsible for a colleague’s work, you take your first step out to the never-ending tightrope that is management.

With 20 years of consulting experience, I’ve worked with more managers than I can remember across a dozen countries and almost as many different cultures. But no matter how large differences seem, the one thing that remains constant is the tell-tale signs of unrestrained, self defeating micromanager behavior.

So the goal for today is for everyone out there in a supervisory position to take a long, honest look at whether or not you’re an unchecked micromanager and if so, what can you do to change in order to prevent hurting your organization (and face it, that’s what you’re likely doing if you can’t keep it in check).

In short, you can carry around your micromanager darkness, just keep it in check, give good people everything they need to do amazing things, and trust them to get it done.

Since humor helps in situations like this, stop by one of my favorite installments from The Oatmeal and ask yourself how much in common you have with the butt of this comic’s joke.

design hell panel 1

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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