A Case For Micromanagement

November 14, 2017 6:35 am

There is a case for micromanaging employees and the only three situations that I think are relevant are:

  • In the very early stages of employment
  • When they are not taking responsibility for their role and failing to meet performance measures
  • When they are making continuous errors

Micromanagement is about managing people at a detail level (as opposed to the larger macro – oversight level) which makes sense in the situations above, however…

The trap in this, for us as leaders, is that we fail to see that this management style should be seasonal, for periods of time – what I have termed as Interval Advancement Management. This style of micromanagement is designed to effectively advance an employee or manager quickly, over a short period of time with the end result for them to be taking full responsibility for their role without our direct involvement at a micro level.

Where managers and business owners fail in this style of management is that they micromanage continuously as a management style rather than utilising it for short-term advancement.

3 Reasons Why Leaders Tend to Continuously Micromanage

My ground level observations about micromanagement in relation to leaders often relate to the following and in many ways are interrelated.

  1. Wanting to maintain complete control
  2. Lack of trust
    “No one can do it as well as I can.” This is often not verbalised as such but in reality, we want quality, we don’t trust our people, and so we have to be in all the details, functioning partly in everybody’s roles, checking absolutely everything (and driving our people crazy.)
  3. The Need To Be Needed
    A very honest business owner client of mine said it this way. “I am scared that when I have everybody in place with all my previous roles fulfilled, I will be no longer needed. What then?”

An Employee’s Comment About Their Boss

During a conversation at a Melbourne Cup party last week a woman said to me “I am looking for a new job. I have been with my company for 12 years and they have had 100% staff turnover this past year. I know my job inside out but they micromanage me and I’m over it. ”

My Recommendations

  • Don’t dismiss micromanagement but do it short term and perform it as Interval Advancement Management with ONLY those employees or management requiring next level advancement.
  • Establish performance measures, reporting, quality checks and balances etc. that allow the person to do their job independently while at the same time, you as the leader understand if their performance is meeting the required standards. If they are, take your hands off and let them do their job. If they are not meeting expectations consider the Interval Advancement method.
  • 360-degree reviews can be useful here to allow employees to rate their managers. Ensure you give your employees a voice as they have the capacity to change our organisations for the better through ground floor understanding and frontline insights.
  • If you are a micromanager and find it hard to let go, ask yourself:
    • Why? What is it within me that drives me into everybody’s role (and drives them crazy and out the door in the process)? Why can’t I trust my people? Why do I have this need to be needed? Why do I derive my personal value from being busy and active?
    • How would you feel if someone came into your organisation and started micromanaging you? How would it make you feel? Would it empower you or disempower you?
    • Who in your organisation needs Interval Advancement Management and how can you best get them to where they need to be?

Micromanagement has its place but only for short periods of time to help people perform at the level required.