Are you a nitpicking perfectionist? You might not think so, but what does your staff think? If so, it’s time for change. Because for all their good intentions, control freaks generally do more harm than good. To read the rest of this article from the Business Journal of Portland, see: Nitpicking control-freak bosses always lose their best employees http://portland.bizjournals.com/portland/stories/2006/07/31/focus7.html
Of course you want to make sure things are just right, especially on documents that might have legal consequences or if they’ll be seen by big customers or big bosses. But what are the consequences of going too far?
For control freaks, there is no “too far.” They nitpick every document and e-mail. They red-pencil every word and choice of layout, font style and size. They’ll even correct their own changes if you feed them back a second time. They think no one is quite as good at anything as they are.
You know the type: The boss who plans the details of every small event, spends an afternoon directing exactly where to place balloons or strings of lights, designs the organization’s web site, takes a day to oversee re-painting stripes in the parking lot or argues directly with vendors about minor details.
They used to be called “seagull bosses” because they flew in sporadically, squawked a lot, left a mess and flew off to squawk about something else.
A steady diet of bullying and correcting staff – especially in minor details or matters of taste and style – means that control freak bosses don’t have time to do their real jobs.
Inevitably, staff motivation, morale and productivity suffer. Nitpicking perfectionists gloat while using sarcasm, put-downs, negativity and yelling. Even staff not directly involved are affected by the waves of discontent and ridicule that spread to every part of the organization.
The most creative and responsible staff will leave. Those who stay are willing to endure more micromanagement because they think it ensures they won’t get blamed for mistakes.
Most nitpickers get the wake up call the hard way: Someone tells them the harsh truth. It could be a big boss, letting you know that you’re wasting your time nitpicking and you’d better deliver on your real tasks. It could be a colleague or supervisee telling you why you’re overworked, why people laugh behind your back or why your best people are leaving.
The key to stopping compulsive nitpicking is hiring and training people who are at least as good as you are and then giving them their appropriate turf. But of course, controlling bullies usually lack the guts to have good people around them.