The well-intentioned micromanager

Aug 07, 2017

We have an expression in the management consulting ranks at Zweig Group. It is this: “The names and faces change but the cast of characters remains the same.” What that means is we keep seeing the same archetypal characters in client organizations – over and over and over again.

One of those types is what we call “the well-intentioned Micromanager.” And every company seems to have one! Sometimes this person is the CEO. And when they are, it can really hold the company back.

Micromanagers don’t trust their people to do their jobs. That results in all kinds of problems. See if any of these sound familiar to you:

  • The Micromanager is worn out. Of course he or she is tired and burned out from all the work. Doing too much is their downfall. Not enough sleep translates to them always being tired and frazzled and not at their best.
  • No one likes to work for the Micromanager. The Micromanager may want what’s best – a happy client, a high-quality project, etc. But the way he or she gets it is rarely if ever pleasant. And that translates into a high turnover rate for the people who work for him or her.
  • The Micromanager is a bottle neck. Of course they are. That makes everyone wait for them to review something – or to meet with them on something – before anyone else can act. Plus, the Micromanager is incredibly busy because he or she is constantly micromanaging. This slows everything down and the people who have to work with the Micromanager hate it.
  • The Micromanager is irreplaceable. Because he or she is at the center of everything, that doesn’t bode well if there’s sickness or other problems with their behavior that needs to be dealt with. Too much rides on them. No one else seems to know much because the Micromanager keeps all the client relationships. Not good!
  • The Micromanager doesn’t develop a successor. They never train people. Why? No one else is WORTH training to them. And because they micromanage so much there’s a lot of trial and error that other folks don’t get to go through. That holds them back. Bad for succession planning!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.