Micromanaging and It’s Effect on Mental Health

I read an article the other day where a woman was seeking advice because she felt her husband did not do anything right when parenting their child. Here is a link if you want to read that first, which I strongly suggest:

https://slate.com/human-interest/2021/01/husband-is-incompetent-father-care-and-feeding.html

Twelve years ago I probably would have related more to her, but these days I related more to the advice columnist, who basically replied telling her she was micromanaging her husband and causing him to lose interest in parenting. Micromanaging your spouse can destroy a marriage and it can destroy that spouse’s relationship with their own child. I was not intentionally doing it of course. It was a symptom of my postpartum depression and my OCD becoming worse postpartum, but some people never overcome this and do it their entire life. I had a boss who micromanaged me and all my coworkers once, and it took a toll on our mental health and majorly affected our lives. It also changed a job I loved, and a company I was devoted to and would have retired with, to a company that disappointed me and broke my heart.

I was at a job I loved most days for years. I was my boss’s right hand man, I got raises and even thought about getting back into management again when my boss decided to leave and my daughter was older. Turns out my boss left, after over 20 years I might add, because she had a new boss who was micromanaging her. After she left, he replaced her with another micromanager, but did promote me and another person to assist them. I stayed for another year and a half. Most others have since either been fired, or eventually left like me. Even the ones who were star employees before were no longer good enough. The thing is though, we are all human and make mistakes daily. If any boss followed their best employee around all day and looked for mistakes, they will find them, as would their boss in them. Once this is done though, it can affect your confidence and of course make you nervous. The next thing you know, you go from making the every day common mistakes everyone makes sometimes because you are human, to making more and more and bigger mistakes because you are a nervous wreck. The micromanager then uses this against you to make you look like you were always this bad, the old boss just was not managing correctly.

Before we knew it, they had HR and upper management believing we were all the problem and not them. No one else would speak up with me, in fear of losing their job. This is how worthless we all felt by this point, that the company would get rid of an entire department, even people who had been great employees for years and would have retired with the company, before they got rid of this person. I on the other hand, could no longer take the toll on my mental health or take the injustice. I got another job, worked out a notice and left on good terms. A party was thrown for me, people gave me gifts and money and food. It felt crazy I was even leaving, or felt I had to. I told them everything I thought, as professionally as I could in an exit interview. I even told them I did not want the person fired, they were good at the other parts of their job, just not at supervising people. I also told them that one coworker I knew, who had never even had Anxiety or panic attacks before, had two caused by this boss, and I, as someone on medication for OCD and the Anxiety it causes, had no longer suffered attacks in a long time since being put on medication, but started having them again.

I loved this job before, and most of the people there loved me and had the same opinion of this boss as I did. I even reflected for that year and half trying to determine if there was anything I could do to change or make the situation better, until I realized it was not me. Everyone saw this at the time, except those that had the power to stop it. By the time they finally did, people’s lives, careers and mental health were already hurt. I had told them most of it before, they just did not listen because they wanted hard evidence, and I was not sitting around documenting everything instead of doing my job like that boss was. Some others were, but it did them no good either. As a former HR director myself, it was hard to lose confidence in HR. I tell this story as much as I can because I have been shocked at the people who have been through the same.

I was told that after I left, my old boss’s boss quit before they were fired or laid off, but my old boss is still there. They are no longer a supervisor though, because once even all the people they hired had the same experience as us, they finally believed us, once most of us were all gone and once our mental health, careers and lives were already majorly affected. Some other good people in the company were laid off after I left , so maybe I got out at the right time. The company was not as good as I thought and disappointed me. Luckily most of my bosses have been great, although I did Nanny for a couple for a short time who micromanaged their kids this way, so I felt kind of micromanaged as well, or required to micromanage them myself one, and both made me uncomfortable. I have also had coworkers at times, some even Leads or ahead of you seniority wise, maybe even training you, who micromanage, and that is hard as well. They see you struggling with something and do not jump in to help unless you ask, and sometimes even then, do not. However, they see you make a minor mistake and call it out from across the room. They never make any, and even have time to check everything you are doing while they do everything perfectly.

In so many of these cases, these people do have the best of intentions. They think they are helping, they are perfectionists. Because of this perfectionism, they are also often very good at certain parts of their job. However, this leads to them being very critical of anyone who even does it the least bit different, even if or when their way might be better, or when it might be okay for someone else to do the same thing differently. I say all of this as someone who has battled perfectionism my entire life, but I do not want to be them, but I also do not expect to change them. That is part of overcoming my own perfectionism. I cannot change them. I can only change me, my reaction, or my situation, as hard as that is sometimes, So I write this, not hoping to change them or those like them, but more so for people that are affected by them, like me, so they know they are not alone, but also for the ones that may find they are like that, as I once was, and do want to change. I also write this for those around who can change things for the person being micromanaged, like the ones who did not believe us all, and the ones who would not stand up with me and risk a job they eventually lost anyways.

As someone who has been a lead and manager, if you see someone struggling, a coworker or someone who works for you, or someone you work for, or your spouse, or your child, help them without them even having to ask, or if you do not see them and they ask, try to help them. Lead by example, by practicing, not preaching, and give them a little room in error. I work in childcare now, so of course if I saw a situation where I truly believed a child was in true danger, I would speak up to someone about what they were doing, whether it was intentional or not. However, I have often found these people often seem more concerned about things that are not life or death, while ignoring others that are or could be. Also, like with kids, when parents get onto you for everything, you eventually drown them out, or just do not care anymore because you seem darned if you do, or darned if you don’t, as is often said. For instance, with that old boss, if you did not take initiative you should have, but if you did take it you should have asked permission first. Life is not a Disney movie. Sometimes the bad guy just seems to win in real life, and it just hurts. I am almost 40, and tired, and I am ready for it just once to easily work out for me, as it seems to for them, but while actually doing the right thing. I guess I just wanted any of you reading this and feeling the same, to know you are not alone.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

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