We have a story in this issue that says that more than three-quarters of workers feel like they’re micromanaged. Since reading the story, I’ve been asking people everywhere if they think they’re a micromanager. Interestingly enough, I could get only two people to say yes. I know my little survey was far from scientific, but wouldn’t you think that if so many people think they are micromanaged, I’d have gotten a few more yesses in my sampling of perhaps 50 people?

One person I asked told me he absolutely is not a micromanager, and then he proceeded­ to snap his fingers (ugh) to get the attention of our waitress, who apparently wasn’t tending to our needs quickly enough. Call me crazy, but I find it hard to believe that that kind of imperiousness doesn’t make its way into the office.

Perhaps, like so many bad habits, it’s hard to see the micromanager in yourself. (Sorry, Charlie,* I just couldn’t resist sharing this story.)

My first boss, Bruce, was a micromanager (and a workaholic). And although I didn’t ask him, I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t have said he was.

In his world (and thus my world), there was really only one way to do something right. Any other way, even if it had the same result, just wouldn’t do. He was also the kind of boss who would stroll in at about noon, work till about three or four in the morning, and then leave everyone a dated and timed note pointing out everything he stayed up all night correcting. And there was many a night he expected us to work that late right alongside him.

While it was maddening and somewhat demoralizing, I have to admit that I probably learned more from him than from any other boss I’ve had. Part of that can certainly be chalked up to the fact that it was my first job and I had a lot to learn. But I also believe I would have learned just as much (and had a much more pleasant experience) from someone who gave me the chance to think on my own and learn from my mistakes.

I also consider myself lucky that, in the 20-plus years of my career, Bruce was the only micromanager I’ve had. All of my other bosses (and there have been quite a few) may have had their quirks and irritations, but they were great about letting people get their jobs done, as well as stepping in with advice and support when needed.

I’d like to think I’ve learned more from them about management than I did from Bruce, but this story made me give it some thought. I’ve asked the people who work for me, and they all say I’m not a micromanager, but, really, what could they say? I know I have a lot of irritating habits and ways of doing business, but I think they’re right about the micromanagement thing. And I’ll go with that until someone tells me otherwise.

So check out the story on page 68 and see if you see yourself in any of the anecdotes. If you’re lucky, you won’t relate to any of the people mentioned. But if you do, perhaps you should rethink your management style — or find a new boss.

Picture of Sheri Burns

Sherri Gulczynski Burns