How New Managers Sometimes Become Micro-Managers

bigstock-Little-child-looking-through-a-19473143Often, new managers are promoted because they are very good at their jobs. Their supervisors may have caught a glimpse of leadership potential. Generally speaking, they are ambitious and hard-working people.

Ever wonder why promising new managers end up becoming micro-managers?  The problem is often under-supervision. Many times, new managers don’t get the direction and support they need from their immediate boss to learn and gradually master their new role. After a basic orientation, it is assumed that they will figure out the nuances of the position on their own.

If you are like me, when left to your own devices, consciously or unconsciously you revert to what has worked in the past. Lacking specifics and encouragement in a new role the new manager may slip back into doing the jobs of their direct reports instead of providing direction and support. Ever had a leader take over a task or project you thought was yours? It leaves you with strange feelings of resentment and inadequacy.

Don’t be the under-supervised micro-manager! If you find yourself unclear about your new role and in need of some help yourself, it’s time to take action. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make your leader lead. Ask for the specifics you need. Set up ongoing one-to-one meetings with your own boss. Let your leader know that you need more time, information, and support. Prepare an agenda and keep the meetings to thirty minutes.
  • Organize your projects and resources. What is urgent? What can wait? Who can guide you? Which of your team members should be involved?
  • Let leadership trickle down. Once you’ve seen the personal benefit of one-on-one meetings with your immediate manager, schedule ongoing meetings with your direct reports to be sure you are giving them what they need. Ask them for feedback.
  • Trust your team members. If you are certain they have all the information they need, step out of the way and let them work. You can make adjustments later.

Even the most promising new managers need some help from time to time. It will take self-reflection, asking for what you need, and taking a chance on yourself and others. You will need guidance and feedback—and you will make mistakes. Ask for help and provide help.  It’s all part of the process and it’s all worth it.

About the author:

Cathy Huett is the Director of Professional Services at The Ken Blanchard Companies.  This is the sixth in a series of posts specifically geared toward new and emerging leaders. To read more, be sure to check out:

6 thoughts on “How New Managers Sometimes Become Micro-Managers

  1. Particularly agree with “trust your team members” lots of reasons but I think the main one is territory and the territorial need we all have. Micro managing walks all over your people’s territory and causes emotions that are not conducive to high performance. Ensure your people know what is expected, help them own this (their territory) and trust that they will deliver. Stop yourself walking into their territory uninvited.

  2. Good stuff all………….but there will always be a problem with the first recommendation. How many new managers feel strong enough to go to their boss and tell them what is needed?………….very few. Most often they are grateful for the promotion, and do not want to do anything to suggest they are not up for it.

    The recommendation here should……in fact must…….be directed to their boss to make sure there is a detailed operating manual which spells out not just what they had to do but how well it should be done. That manual must include the tasks associated with managing, like teamworking; evaluating; correcting errors; managing change; etc; etc. More often than not operating procedures/manuals/job descriptions list only the tasks related to the actual work of the team. To make it worse, where manuals do address some of the mentioned tasks they revert to using key points such as “professional”………”timely”……”efficiently”!!!!!!!!

    My second thought is around this notion of micro-managing. Too often it means not being close by. To me that is rubbish………..absolute rubbish. The most effective managers are those who spend a lot of time right alongside their people. The difference however being that every time they rock up it is to check if there is any help they can provide rather than constantly advising ways it can be done better. In my experience top managers who have the total buy-in from their team, are those who spend most of their day alongside the team checking what they can do to assist…………..and oftentimes the best assistance is helping the individual to recognize what can be done better and how to fix it rather than them the manager.


  3. Pingback: New (micro) managers - How I see the world | How I see the world

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