Manpower: People are selected and placed in positions that fit their gifts, passions and callings and that align with the church’s objectives and culture

The Most Destructive Outcome of Micromanagement Supervision

Micromanagement supervision is a management style whereby a supervisor closely observes or controls the work of subordinates. Much has been written about how micromanagement is really mismanagement. How micromanagers disempower staff, stifle opportunity for growth and innovation, and give rise to poor performance and morale.

Like cancer, there are numerous symptoms of micromanagement, most all of which are bad for the organization and bad for the employee. In my experience the most destructive outcome of micromanagement to the mission of the church is seldom referenced, the confusion around what is important.

Confused Subordinates Major on Minors

Micromanagers tend to treat insignificant matters with the same degree of focus and attention as they do high priority items. Though high and low priority initiatives aren’t equal in the micromanager’s mind, their words and actions make them appear to be equal to the subordinates. The subordinates then become confused about which initiatives are truly high priorities and which are not.

Most micromanagers have good intentions but have perfectionist tendencies. They are committed to high standards and want to see all aspects of the ministry achieve those standards. To subordinates the micromanager seems to pay the same amount of intention to all initiatives and assignments, regardless of their importance. The micromanager unintentionally sends the message to subordinates that low priority initiatives are just as important as high priority initiatives.

Most subordinates want to do a good job and please their supervisors, so they begin focusing more and more attention on low priority tasks. High priority, mission critical tasks get neglected as the employee spends more and more time addressing the little things. Inevitably, employees who are confused about priorities start majoring on minors and subsequently productivity, effectiveness and efficiency decline. When productivity, effectiveness and efficiency decline then the mission of the church suffers.

Two Messages

Don’t Be A Micromanager: First, if you have micromanager and high control tendencies look in the mirror and identify and reflect on your personality, family of origin and life experience issues that are causing your hard driving, high expectation perfectionist patterns. Examine and understand the destructive personal and organizational outcomes of your behavior. Seek professional help with your personhood issues and a coach to mentor you on management best practices.

Second, if your micromanaging behavior emanates from a lack of trust in the competency of your subordinates, provide training in the areas that are deficient. Try positive feedback to encourage the outcomes you desire.

Third, carefully prioritize your work and communicate clearly and frequently those priorities to your subordinates.

Fourth, avoid harping on the minutia, the insignificant, and those non-mission critical items that don’t move the needle. Focus less on present details and more on future opportunities.

Fifth, display trust by empowering your subordinates with both the responsibility and authority to accomplish their job description.

Sixth, demonstrate you care for your subordinates. Control freaks communicate results are more important than the people who produce the results. Be humble, admit your mistakes and apologize.

Don’t Succumb to a Micromanager: The second message is to subordinates who have micromanager supervisors.

First, before blaming your supervisor for micromanaging behavior look in the mirror to determine if your strengths, weaknesses or performance are contributing to his tendencies. Raise your personal performance standards to meet your supervisors.

Second, if you are confused about priorities, ask your supervisor to prioritize your to do list.

Third, avoid allowing the micromanager’s intrusion to divert you from what you know are high priority tasks.

Fourth, observe when your supervisor micromanages and anticipate and stay a step ahead of him.

Fifth, try to understand what is driving your supervisor’s micromanagement behavior. Realize that at times those tendencies may be necessary to achieve important results.

Sixth, acknowledge the experience, expertise and responsibility of your micromanager and that their input can be constructive and beneficial.


Posted on November 29, 2016

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5