The Micromanager can be found in every organization, including and maybe especially in churches. Most every minister has a story to tell about a micromanager pastor. Why are pastors prone to becoming micromanagers? Micromanagement stems from insecurity and lack of trust, and pastors are often insecure and distrustful………and for good reason. No one is a more frequent target for criticism and deceit than a pastor.
I’m convinced that few pastors want to be a micromanager. I’ve known of some pastors who try to avoid being a micromanager at all costs — taking a hands-off approach and letting their staff sink or swim on their own.
Other pastors seem to take pride in being a micromanager. They want to be engaged in every aspect of church life, involved in every decision, deep in the weeds of every ministry. Some have told me that they see it as a mark of an effective leader.
Let’s take a look at how you can identify a micromanager pastor.
The One Question Test
Here’s a one-question test to identify if a pastor is a micromanager: Is the staff ministry-focused or pastor-focused?
A pastor-focused team is fairly easy to identify. The main thing that matters to the staff is what the pastor thinks, says, or wants. Pastors create this culture in a variety of ways:
- Important aspects of every program, project, or event must meet his specifications.
- Context is not provided on how and why things need to be done in a certain way.
- Frequent nitpicking of mistakes are based on his idiosyncratic whims and ego.
- Every decision must go through him, delaying progress at each turn.
- Frequent progress reports and pandering are the norm.
- Pressure is put on staff to achieve narrowly focused goals, metrics and outcomes.
- Everyone is afraid to be honest or share opinions.
- Staff feel like every conversation with the pastor is a performance review.
- Feedback and support is infrequent and when it comes is in the form of criticism rather than help or encouragement.
- Confused expectations and wasted time are the outcomes of staff-pastor interactions.
- Opinions and demands are interjected into e-mail chains and conference calls without understanding the context.
But, the problem isn’t just the pastor’s over-involvement, it’s the lack of ongoing partnership, encouragement, and coaching that the staff feel the most. It’s not unusual for micromanaged church staffs to have a veneer of happiness and positivity that masks an underlying fear, anxiety, resentment, and perhaps even shame. A pastor-focused staff may appear strong on the outside, but creativity, innovation, and initiative are being stifled and the mission of the church will suffer.
Help for the Micromanaged and the Micromanager
Micromanaging occurs in the church when there is no relationship of trust and support between a pastor and staff. You can’t flip a switch and create a culture of trust and support, both have to be nurtured through conversations and actions. If you are being micromanaged, or if you are a micromanager here are some immediate steps you can take.
Help….I’m being micromanaged:
- Ask for context, the why behind an assignment.
- Ask if you can give some input into an assignment.
- Ask for clarity on outcomes and expectations.
- Ask for constructive feedback.
- Ask what success looks like.
- Offer alternatives.
- Ask if you can bring others on your team into the project.
- Beat him to the punch. Ask if you can propose a plan for achieving a project, ministry, objective, or goal.
- Ask for a coaching conversation.
Help…. I’m a micromanager:
- Initiate non-work related relationship-building conversations to improve mutual trust.
- Ask questions before providing instruction.
- Solicit and include opinions and suggestions.
- Provide coaching before criticizing. When criticizing, make it constructive.
- Offer context for your requests.
- Increase recognition of individual and team accomplishments.
- Encourage shared ownership and responsibility.
- Create opportunities for collaboration and partnerships.
- Focus on strengths rather than weaknesses.
- Check your ego and perfectionist tendencies at the door.
- Get trained in best management and supervising practices.
- To build trust, provide self-development opportunities for your staff.
Posted on August 18, 2020