Micromanagement or Lack of Communication?

After twenty plus years of coaching and staffing in the construction and development, I have spoken with multiple people that report to the same Executive. It fascinates me to hear from one person that the person is a micro-manager and then have two others describe to me what a great leader the same executive is and how this executive empowers and coaches them. After conversing further, typically I find out the one that felt micromanaged did their job like the other two, but they expected their superior to always ask them instead of them about the result versus taking the communication lead.  Too often the one that felt micromanaged is in my office seeking a job due to they were let go.  They are confused as in their hearts they thought they did their job and never missed a deadline. Why was the executive they reported to not happy with their performance? Most likely due to the employee’s communication style.

The majority of Executives and managers in construction have dominance in their communication profiles.  Many of them are of few words unless they need to communicate detail on something important to them or are in a social setting.  They are often excellent at communicating with you and others what is required and when and drawing the map to where they want everyone to go.  They keep their superiors informed or if they are the owner of the company they keep their executive team up to speed. That’s most likely what drove them to executive leadership and keeps them there.

How do you find out if they are a micromanager or not?

Start taking the lead with your communications.  Notice what they are always asking you about or for.  They may always ask you if you are working on a particular task that you already discussed you were working to complete. Before they ask, take the lead and communicate to them I am working on the submittal for the glass and glazing and will have it by 4 p.m. today to Jim for review.  When you submit it to Jim, cc them or shoot them a note when it is into Jim, so they don’t have to ask you if you met the deadline.

D personality styles operate in a way that ensures they never lose control or autonomy. They like to be informed.  They do like suggestions on how to better go about something.  Just be prepared for D’s to challenge you and respond back with their thoughts (see our article about D Personality Style).

When communicating with the D style give them the bottom line. Be brief, focus your discussion narrowly, avoid making generalizations, refrain from repeating yourself, and focus on solutions rather than problems.  They like it when you tell them it will be done by 4:00 and you get it done by 3:00 instead without sacrificing accuracy.  If you do carbon copy them on the submittal, they won’t necessarily read the content. It just shows your superior the item inquired about is completed.  You can do the same thing with an email that says in the subject line:  “Glass and Glazing submittal, XYZ project”.  In the body of the email: “Completed. Sent to Jim for review.”

You may not receive any acknowledgement of your email, or if you do, it will be one word like; OK.  If your superior is not good at checking email make sure you learn their preferred communication style which might be a quick call, text or by walking to their office if on site with you.

I guarantee you if you start your relationship keeping your superior informed versus them having to wonder status on something even if it is done, over time you will build their trust.

Are you taking the lead in communication instead of finding it annoying when they ask?  The D asking might not be about you, but to give the D peace of mind, they will reach the goal and get the result they are striving to achieve.  We are an industry of results and speaking as one of those D personalities myself.  We hate asking twice, and once we know we can count on someone, we will want them on our team always.

This is construction, a team sport.  Keep your coach and teammates informed of your significant plays, especially those they inquired.  I guarantee you it will prevent you from being benched or feeling micromanaged.


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