I am sure that most managers would take offense when called a micromanager. Definitely, not as much as being called a bully but somewhere in that ballpark. Before, we get any deeper into the subject, let me categorically say that I am against micromanagement. Micromanagement takes away the micromanaged employee’s dignity and happiness at work. It may also impact the employee’s health, family, and social life. So, it is an evil that needs to be eliminated.
I am also sure that most most managers do not like to micromanage. In good companies, when managers are tagged as micromanagers, their careers may stop advancing and that is a good thing too. Micromanagement, just like bullying, must not be tolerated. But, before we start labeling managers as micromanagers, we first need to understand what micro-management is and isn’t. Otherwise, there is a good chance that some disengaged employees, to avoid accountability, can start misusing this label. So, it is required to understand micromanagement with the same clarity as that of bullying.
Micromanagement is defined as “management with excessive control or attention to details”. Many of us have come across micromanagement at work. I, for sure, was. I was once chewed up for missing a thousands separator in a financial report, a report that did not exist before and I created it from scratch to show the variance in the budget. Instead of worrying about the huge variance and how to fix it, the micromanager gave me a lecture on his pet peeve of seeing every number with a thousands separator. In this case, attention to details was a waste of time as there were bigger things to worry about.
Having said that, attention to details (not ALL details) and control (not excessive) is needed to get things done right and on time. Only then would teams flourish, projects succeed, and companies thrive. How much control is ideal? This needs to be determined by what is ideal for the project or the work at hand. The success of the work should be the determining factor. But, in most cases that is not the determining factor and that needs to be fixed.
The factor that plays a major role is the prior experience of the manager as well as the employee.
If the manager has been called a micromanager before by a disengaged employee then the manager may act safe and let the control slip. Or the manager worked for a micromanager before and hated it so much that this manager went to the other extreme, only to lose control.
If an engaged employee worked for a micromanager before then a paranoia may set in and cause the employee to look at all reasonable activities of accountability as micromanagement.
None of these attitudes are beneficial, since subjective criteria is being used to determine what is needed to succeed at the work at hand.
So, there is a need to have clear guidelines as to what micromanagement is and it should be as clearly defined as bullying is, so that no one is victimized by this workplace evil called micromanagement and at the same time great work is done by everyone so the teams flourish, projects succeed and companies thrive.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!