Tech & Work

Beware of the lateral micromanager

We all know what an unwelcome guest the micromanager is when it's actually a manager. But what about the co-worker who likes to micromanage?

We all know what an unwelcome guest the micromanager is when it's actually a manager. But what about the co-worker who likes to micromanage?

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We've written a lot at TechRepublic about the dreaded micromanager. From the rate of response we get to those pieces, micromanagement must be the bane of workplaces the world over. Well, guess what? There's a new strain of the micromanagement virus you'll be hearing about: lateral micromanagement. It's the same aggravating butting in and controlling behavior except, in this case, it's coming from a peer instead of a boss.

The lateral micromanager is a co-worker who feels he or she has to have some kind of hand in everything that goes on. It's the person who, even though he hasn't been asked, comes behind you to check on your work and then points out every miniscule mistake you've made.

Perfectionism is hard on the practitioner himself. Can you imagine how welcome it is by another party? Coming from a boss, micromanagement can at least be taken in a somewhat constructive vein. The boss is at least at a level that feedback is appropriate. But it's a little unsettling to have a co-worker micro-involved in your work. (Yes, I just made up that word "micro-involved.")

The lateral micromanager might truly have the best interests of the company or the employee at heart, but it's an extremely touchy area when it extends to co-workers. There is the feeling of "Why are you watching my work so closely?" and the implication that the lateral micromanager is placing himself somewhere above you on the food chain.

I'd like to hear from any lateral micromanagers out there and ask what drives them. Also, if you've been micromanaged by a peer, let's hear your war stories.

About Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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