Micromanaging and Gender Communication
Steve Adubato, Ph.D.
Q--I really need your advice. I am a manager for
a major retailer. Every day we are constantly spending and wasting
time faxing or e-mailing everything we do to our district manager.
Now our regional vice president is giving us everything we have
to do on a daily basis and to make sure we are doing it, notes are
being faxed to our district office. I love my job, but lately this
management and leadership style is driving me nuts and making me
feel very inadequate.
My question is very simple. Does this fall under micromanaging?
Because it feels like it to me.
A--Dear Under the Microscope,
We all feel your pain. What you describe sounds like a workplace
that isn’t particularly fun and borders on unhealthy. The
question is, why is your district manager and regional vice president
checking everyone’s work at every stop along the way? There
is a good chance they see what they are doing as just focusing on
the details and demonstrating how much they care about customer
What we have here is a problem of perception. Both of your managers
need to understand what impact their management style is having
on those that report to them. They need to understand that all this
unnecessary faxing and e-mailing as well as the checking and re-checking
is having a negative impact not just on morale but on productivity.
My suggestion is that you take the leadership role and recommend
to your colleagues in the workplace that you get together with both
bosses and talk to them. Open up the dialogue. Yeah, I know. Some
of your colleagues are going to say that it is too risky and they
do not want to sound like they are complaining. But that is not
what you are doing. You are trying to address a problem before it
gets any worse--before it starts effecting the bottom line and before
people start getting laid off.
However, in the meeting make sure your tone is positive and constructive
as opposed to whiney and negative. In addition to describing how
you see the problem, make sure you are prepared to offer concrete
recommendations as to how to improve things. Finally, try to move
the group toward some resolution and then put out an e-mail or fax
that confirms those details.
Q--In a recent column you wrote about how to keep a conversation
flowing. I know that I have been guilty in the past of asking too
many closed-ended questions and now I try not to do that anymore.
Yet, I’m still challenged. I’m a 37 year old single
male and would like to know if you could recommend any books about
communicating more effectively with the opposite sex.
A--First, you are not alone. Fact is, most men have a hard
time communicating with women and vice versa. Some books that might
help you and the rest of us who struggle in this area include Dr.
Deborah Tannen’s “You Just Don’t Understand.”
Dr. Tannen has dedicated her entire professional life to understanding
gender communication. The other book I really like is Dr. Richard
Carlson’s “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Men,”
which focuses in part on how men can more effectively communicate
with women. In fact, Carlson’s “Don’t Sweat the
Small Stuff” series of books is first rate.
Finally, my advice when communicating with women is to work harder
at listening as opposed to trying to fix, solve or impress. Many
women complain that most men are terrible listeners who just want
to talk about themselves and get to the “bottom line.”
Relax and be yourself.
Dr. Steve Adubato coaches and speaks on the subjects of communication
and leadership and is the author of the book "Speak from the
Heart." Write to him at The Star-Ledger, 1 Star-Ledger Plaza,
Newark, NJ 07102, visit his Web site at www.stand-deliver.com,
or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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