Micromanager: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
As told by Marjorie Freeman.
Once upon a time...
there was a kind, thoughtful, ordinary young man who transformed into a hideous ten foot tall shadow whenever he lost his sense of control. For years he had lived a normal life. But when his career had just begun to take flight, the infamous sorceress, known to many as Madame Fright, came to him on the eve of his big promotion to senior manager and propositioned him with a choice: “You’ll never be a good manager.” Madame Fright hissed menacingly, floating over his bed like a storm cloud.
Awakened out of a deep sleep, the young man sat up in surprise.
“How do you know that?” He asked groggily, with a hint of horrified confusion “Isn’t it better to be respected than feared?” His teeth chattered together as he sunk down deeper into his pillow, putting more space between him and the frightful thing dangling above him.
“Because… you’re too considerate, which means you’re too nice, which means you’re too weak.” She moved down until she was inches away from the young man’s frozen face. “Weak people are useless. Not fit to be leaders.”
The fearful young man pondered over her statement momentarily. Raising a twitchy eyebrow,
“What do I have to do?” He asked.
“Walk into that building tomorrow as the kind and gentle person that you are and you will not be taken seriously.” She paused. Her scalding yellow eyes shifted from the young man lying below her to her long pointed fingernails. The young man shuddered, pulling her away from her distraction. A sinister grin spread across her face.
“Or, you can have unlimited power and rule the company as a real boss should.”
“At what cost?” The young man choked on a glob of spit that became stuck in his throat.
“Your sanity.” She said simply, shrugging her bony shoulders. “But don’t worry, you’ll get it back once you sacrifice the sanity of others.”
So, the young man accepted Madame Fright’s second offer. He marched into his office, a ten foot tall monster, and demanded the attention of all his employees at once.
He stalked his employees; looming over them like a spindly, contorted shadow. He’d reach over their shoulders with his sharp gangling claws and ripped their work out from under their fingers to claim it as his own. When he wasn’t taking over their work, he didn’t trust their efforts so he attacked anyone that seemed like a threat or hungry for his power.
He went on like this for months. Every day he bullied his team to fuel his ego, to fuel his sanity. He enjoyed making others feel small, because it made him feel larger than life. The fact that people feared him eased his insecurities, and when he felt confident he performed at his best… or so he thought.
One cold and stormy night after a long and exhausting day at work, he resummoned Madame Fright. He'd decided it was finally time to reclaim his sanity, as he had successfully diminished the spirits, hopes, and confidences of all that answered to him. She appeared before him again, even larger than before. Without acknowledging her obvious change in appearance, the jaded young man excitedly began spewing out all his proud accomplishments as a leader, and how he had taken down so many others in the process. The entire time the delusional young man was speaking, the sorceress smirked as if she knew something that the poor young man didn’t. She let him finish his frantic speech before she spoke.
Madame Fright let out an ugly cackle. It was like hearing shards of broken glass slice through the air, the young man thought, feeling the hairs on the back of his neck rise like that of a disturbed cat. He stared back at the towering shadowy figure levitating in front of him apprehensively.
“Do you know why they call me Fright?” She said simply.
The young man shook his head slightly, as if any abrupt movements would cause something to break inside of him.
“Because I enjoy intimidating people. Kind of like you did.” She sneered.
The young man swallowed thickly.
“And what does belittling people do for you?” He stuttered.
“Nothing,” Madame Fright replied. “Just makes me feel good.”
The young man brushed off the comment and asked could he have his sanity back. Almost immediately after asking the question, Madame Fright disappeared like a cloud of smoke.
The young man was never the same. He had reaped the eternal curse of the micromanager.
There are many micromanagers walking among us today. They diminish employee motivation and morale, in turn affecting their own health and sanity, and even that of others. Don’t be the person that this once kind and thoughtful young man became. Be confident in your own abilities without tearing down and minimizing the abilities of others. Take a leap of faith and put your trust in your employees.
It takes courage, in fact, to defeat monsters.