Why Are Some Managers So Controlling?

Understanding the reasons behind a manager’s controlling behavior can be crucial for employees seeking to navigate and address such situations. While every individual and workplace is unique, here are five common reasons why a manager may exhibit controlling tendencies:

1. Fear of Failure:

  • Explanation: Some managers fear that any mistake or failure reflects poorly on their leadership abilities. As a result, they may feel compelled to exert excessive control to ensure that everything is done exactly as they envision, minimizing the chances of errors.
  • Handling: Emphasize open communication and demonstrate your commitment to learning from mistakes. Show that you are proactive in finding solutions and willing to take responsibility for your work.

2. Insecurity:

  • Explanation: Insecure managers may fear being overshadowed by their team members or worry about job security. Controlling behavior can be a defense mechanism to maintain a sense of authority and importance.
  • Handling: Offer reassurance and support to your manager, emphasizing that your goal is to collaborate and contribute to the team’s success. Seek opportunities to highlight your manager’s strengths and achievements.

3. Lack of Trust:

  • Explanation: Managers who struggle to trust their team members may resort to controlling behavior as a way to maintain a sense of oversight. This lack of trust can stem from past experiences or a general skepticism about the capabilities of others.
  • Handling: Establish trust by consistently delivering high-quality work, meeting deadlines, and communicating transparently about your progress. Proactively seek feedback to demonstrate your commitment to improvement.

4. Pressure from Higher-ups:

  • Explanation: Managers themselves may be subject to controlling behaviors from higher-ranking executives or superiors. The pressure to meet specific targets or adhere to strict guidelines can trickle down, resulting in a manager exerting control over their team.
  • Handling: Be empathetic to your manager’s position and try to understand the external pressures they may be facing. Collaboratively find ways to meet organizational goals while maintaining a healthy and empowering work environment.

5. Perfectionism:

  • Explanation: Some managers have a perfectionist mindset and may believe that only they can achieve the desired level of excellence. This perfectionism can manifest as controlling behavior as they strive to ensure that everything aligns with their high standards.
  • Handling: Acknowledge the pursuit of excellence while also emphasizing the benefits of a collaborative and diverse team. Share success stories that demonstrate how a collective effort can lead to innovative solutions and successful outcomes.

Understanding these potential reasons behind a manager’s controlling behavior can empower employees to address the root causes and work towards a more collaborative and positive workplace. Open communication, empathy, and a commitment to shared goals can help foster a healthier dynamic between managers and their teams. If the situation persists, seeking guidance from HR or engaging in constructive dialogues with the manager may be necessary to find lasting solutions.