The dilemma of micromanaging – ensuring everyone does it your way or letting everyone do it in their own personal way. Is the choice that simple? Of course not; there’s a vast stretch of nuance between those two extremes and somewhere along the spectrum lies the optimum way of managing any given project, task, team or individual.

Why micromanaging is so maligned, Micromanaging; the word itself conjures all kinds of sinister connotations of the boss-from-hell always peering over a shoulder, maligning every move, decrying every decision and highlighting every misstep on a subordinate’s journey.

Micromanagers exhibit a need for close control over every aspect of the tasks being carried out by their team. Yet control is one the first casualties of micromanagement. Instead of utilising their time, experience and the raft of management tools and techniques available, micromanagers reduce themselves to overseeing minute details of each of their subordinates’ productivity, leaving project control to languish on a back-seat.

Productivity, naturally, declines as employees perceive a lack of belief in their ability and subsequently lose trust in their leader. Resentful employees become dependent on the micromanager for every decision and independent creative thought is stifled. Micromanagers, likely to be doing their own job badly, tend to burn themselves out spending an inordinate amount of time trying to do everyone else’s job too – and they’re equally likely to immolate their whole team in the process. Staff, dissatisfied with their competence being questioned, denied independence of thought and autonomy of action, are liable to walk away in pursuit of more satisfying positions affording greater opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Micromanaging as a force for good
The catalogue of negative consequences outlined above is certainly damning, but is there a case in defence of micromanaging? Yes, if considered as just one of the aforementioned management tools and techniques then there are certainly circumstances where micromanagement has its uses. Consider new employees. They may be inexperienced in general, or they may simply be unfamiliar with specific systems and processes unique to their new position. Naturally, they’ll require closer supervision as the responsible manager ensures their training quickly brings their competence and productivity to a level allowing them greater autonomy and an accompanying degree of accountability.

As with most things, it’s horses-for-courses – recognise the situations where a higher level of control is required, and understand when a lighter touch is not only appropriate but desirable. Management by ‘my way or the highway’ alienates staff, making the highway attractive and leading to unnecessarily high and costly turnover. Good managers know what’s in their toolbox and select the appropriate tool for each job.

ECAC Management course will demonstrate the range of management tools at your disposal and help you understand how, where and when to use them most effectively. Contact us for more details, develop the contents of your management toolbox and remove the dilemma of micromanaging.