Sunday, June 29, 2014

Are You a Micro-Manager?

Kenneth Fracaro back in 2007 mentioned that “micromanaging is a management style in which a supervisor closely observes or controls the work of an employee. In contrast to giving general instructions on smaller tasks while supervising larger concerns, the micromanager monitors and assesses every step. This behaviour adversely affects supervisor-employee communication, creativity, productivity, problem-solving, flexibility, trust, feedback, openness, and company growth and goal attainment,” (p.4).
If you’ve ever worked for a micromanager then you’ll probably have memories of feeling constantly under pressure, desperately wanting to come up for air and having your motivation knocked out of you day after day.
In a 2012 article in the International Journal of Economics and Management Sciences, Amandip Sidhu stated that “micromanagement is essentially watching, or making employees feel that their every move is being watched. Excessive attention to detail, planning tasks to minutiae, and obsessively tracking the time employees spend at their desks, on their breaks, etc are some of the more extreme activities associated with micromanagement. While this may seem to some like the work managers should be doing, in fact these behaviours are detrimental and take the managers focus away from the bigger picture. Furthermore, a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology by DeCaro et al (2011) showed that employees, who felt they were being watched, consistently performed at a lower level,” (p.71).
The most common reasons for why individual’s micromanage are;
  • They haven’t recruited the right people into the right positions, forcing them to micromanage to ensure the job is done correctly; 
  • They are a small business owner where the business has now grown, but they find it hard to let go of the day-to-day detail and now need to learn to let go of some of the detail and trust their employees;
  • They are driven by power, and enjoy command and control style leadership and micromanaging is nothing more than a power trip, which strokes their own ego as they believe no one can do the job better than them;
  • They have been over-promoted themselves and don’t know how to lead properly and hence micromanage to hide their own fears of losing control;
  • They use it to terminate an employee by constantly putting them under pressure to meet unattainable targets (which in most countries is illegal).

In a way it’s amazing that in the 21st Century, with all the research and history of poor leadership and poor management techniques, titles like ‘micromanagement’ are still actively applied in businesses to this day. This unfortunately shows poor leadership from the top, poor organisational design and poor recruitment policies.
Sadly micromanagement can exist at any level in an organisation and at Board level micromanagement prevents boards from governing well. It results in dysfunctional boards, public criticism, accreditation concerns, demoralized staff, and lack of respect for elected trustees.
The good news is that leaders that have learnt and understand the pitfalls of micromanaging ensure that employees and the organisation have;
• The Right Mind Set
• The Right Role
• The Right Work
• The Right People
• The Right Agenda
• The Right Information
• The Right Culture
Amandip Sidhu highlights how “building upon Peter Drucker’s foundations, we can formulate the following facets of ‘good’ management behaviour:
Managers trust the employee’s ability to deliver the results expected of her, and offering the training and coaching necessary to build that ability;
Managers and employees must have a customer-centric approach, where all deliverables are measured by their value to the end-user;
Employees should not be just considered ‘doers’ while managers are the thinkers and planners to minute detail. This master-slave type relationship hinders employee growth, undermines the employee’s ability to become problem solvers, and greatly reduces employee engagement. Many studies have shown, that workers simply handed a list of tasks and how to perform them quickly consider the work to become mundane and become disengaged,” (p.73).
There should be no need for micromanagement at any level – and if it exists you need to identify the real ‘cause’ of this behaviour and fix it – as you’ll be amazed with the change in motivation and performance when you do.
Fracaro, K.E. (2007). The Consequences of Micromanaging. Contract Management. July. p. 4-9.
Sidhu, A.S. (2012) Micromanagement: A Project Management Tool in Crisis, International Journal of Economics and Management Science. Vol. 1, No. 12, p.71-77.

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