Friday, January 9, 2009

What Micro-Managers Do: Anatomy of a Meeting

I used to walk around the office past the glass conference rooms and observe the meetings in progress. At first, I was just walking through the office and casually looked in on who was having meetings...making the occasional gestures of hello to people who were my friends. Over time, I began to notice people’s behaviors in these meetings...some people sat up straight, others slouched in their chairs, some people looked down at the ground, some people always sat next to the manager, others consistently had food and/or drink with them. There were all kinds of interesting little things that I just thought were those interesting little things.

But there was one behavior that I became a little obsessed with. I noticed the same people always had their mouths moving. These were the managers that people called the micro-managers. The more I noticed it, the more obvious it became, of course…the micro-managers were doing all the talking. Maybe this is not a ground-breaking revelation. Maybe.

I am no behavioral psychologist, but I did seem to be observing some consistent behavior. And if you think about it, there may be something there. To test my hypothesis (micro-managers do most of the talking during meetings) answer the following questions for yourself: In your staffing meetings, who is doing all of the talking? Among your peers, who is doing all of the talking? Are you doing all of the talking in your staff meetings?

We have all attended meetings like these. I am sorry to say, I have led meetings like this. (No one is perfect). So I have started to put together a list of things that occur during a meet led by a micro-manager.

The anatomy of a team meeting led by a micro-manager:

  1. Meeting agenda created, sent out and followed by the manager.
  2. Key updates asked for and delivered by the manager. Well, in some instances, the manager will go around the room for updates…by think about it…once the team member finishes their first sentence or two, the manager jumps in, completes the thought, adds a few more and then assigns more thoughts for future tasks.
  3. 80-90% of the talking is done by the manager. It is not difficult to figure out why most team members feel meetings are a waste of time. All they do is sit there and listen to the manager who has all the answers.

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