I'm Not a Micromanager!

Dear Geese,

I am the CFO of an organization and have been unfairly labeled as a micromanager, particularly by my peers. Since you seem to be a fairly objective person, I’d like to present my side of the story and see what you think.   

I’ve been at this organization for three years now. During that time I’ve had five different managers work directly under me. I realize that seems like a lot of turnover during a short span of time but each manager left for different reasons...and for the most part not related to me personally or my management style. I say “most part” because manager #4 apparently accuse me of micromanaging him during his exit interview.  

Simply stated, I am not a micromanager. That’s not my management style or my preference in managing other. However, as was the case with manager #4, I had no choice but to micromanage him. Let me explain. He was a poor communicator (not unusual for finance people), unorganized, didn’t like to be held accountable, was out sick a lot, and never provided updates or follow-up from tasks he was assigned. So yes, as this pattern emerged, so did my need for information and my need to hold him accountable. In essence, I was micromanaging…but not by choice—but by necessity.

That’s just one example. Suffice it say, the other managers’ left for things like burnout, or illness, or they simply found a higher paying job…all “non-micromanaging” reasons in my book.

My point is this: Sometimes we assume that the reason a leader is micromanaging is because he/she has control issues or a big ego—when in fact it could be because he/she has an unreliable employee (or manager in my case). In other words, before accusing someone of being a micromanager, make sure you have all the facts. Not all of us like having the label of micromanager hanging over our heads!

Arthur from the desert

Dear Arthur,

Thanks for providing another perspective on micromanaging. Just so you know, Lisa (my co-host) and I are going to be discussing the topic of micromanaging on today’s show and giving a quiz for people to assess whether or not they have micromanaging qualities.

If I was coaching you (which I think would be a great idea), I’d want to explore a number of things you brought up like:

·      Was micromanaging an issue that contributed to former managers leaving or seeking a different job or getting ill, for that matter?

·      Why are you getting labeled a micromanager in the organization if you only had one legitimate situation where you were forced to micromanage?

·      Have you sat down and talked to peers about their perceptions of you? Have you had the opportunity to share your version of things?

·      What does your immediate supervisor (the CEO) think about the micromanaging charge?

·      Have you ever shared your management philosophy upfront with new managers and talked about expectations?

·      What’s your process for hiring new managers? And how is it your company keeps hiring bad managers? Are they coming in bad or are they turning bad after they’re hired?

·      What’s your turnover rate (outside of managers) look like in your department? How connected are you to the employees under your manager(s)?

To your point Author, things are not always as they seem and coaching is no different. That’s why I would want to get “under the surface” with you about what it is that you are doing that’s creating this stigma.

For now I want you to listen to the show (April 6, 2014) and take the on-air quiz along with us to see if you have micromanaging tendencies. In return, I will provide a quiz in next week’s Dear Geese blog and continue discussing this topic for another week. How does that sound?

Lastly, I’m currently offering a 1-hour introductory coaching call for $297 that I strongly encourage you to take advantage of. From there we can both decide if it makes sense to continue coaching together.



Greg “Geese” Giesen




To submit your Dear Geese question or comments, email it to greg@greggiesen.com