Letter: Micromanagement is an institutional culture problem

Regarding "Are you a micromanager?"

I was at a university for many years where independence and creativity were valued. My first government position in a high level office also valued those qualities. Having changed jobs and come to a new position, I found not only management but also other employees suspicious of how colleagues spent their time.

Micromanagement is not just a management problem, it is an institutional culture problem. When supposed colleagues mistrust each other, justification for time spent and data sheets are a symptom of an organizational sickness.

“Colleagues” are angry over old slights in moving up the pay grade ladder. I did not realize how important this is in government. Other “colleagues” do not understand the work of professionals such as engineers, lawyers, nurses, and doctors and think they “read” too much. The military jargon of “duty station” and “detail” are throwbacks to guard duty marching with a rifle on your shoulder or digging a latrine. The military words are useful for a hierarchical organization with ranks, salutes and orders from above; but not for modern networks of creative staff focused on problem solving.

These attitudes and issues, among others, lead to an overall climate of suspicion where micromanagement thrives.

So to work with an individual manager will not solve this problem. Mistrust is an institutional sickness that must be addressed at the individual, group, organization, and leadership level.

Anonymous

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