What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement, broadly defined, is an inefficient management style of managing every detail of a business. Mangers, who insist on micromanaging, try to make every decision, taking a key role to complete each significant task. Honestly speaking, micro managers try to dictate every small step of the employees. And this style is often symptomatic of insecurity or paranoia; as these managers tend to have lack of faith and trust in their people. Worst still, micromanagement is repressive and leads to little growth. The excessive attention and focus of the managers on the tasks annoys employees. Such management styles often discourage human resource development. Rather than encouraging teamwork, it focuses on problems of details. This eventually may lead to a business failure.

Managers, who fail to trust the judgment of their employees and are unwilling to allow the people to assume their responsibilities, are cheating themselves of the talent they pay for. Moreover, it is practically impossible to build a one-person organization to succeed in the long run. Though micromanaging work for a while, it hinders progress by discouraging new ideas and new ventures. It cannot encourage employees to move forward.

What Causes Micromanagement?

Often noticed, the culture of micromanagement occurs unintentionally. In fact, no manager feels accountable for creating this burdensome culture. In most cases, micromanagement happens due to two unconscious reasons – managers willing to stay in familiar operational territory, and managers fearing to be disconnected.

It is often observed micro-managers prefer to stay in their familiar operational territory. In fact, most of them can hardly let go of the traditional ways of doing their job. These managers fail to realize that they need to be more strategic at the higher levels. They need to dial down the day-to-day operational focus to their people, and to do so, it is essential to trust them as well as train them as required. This is a difficult transition for many managers. As a result, they instinctively continue to focus more in the operational territory of their subordinates

Again, there are managers worrying about being disconnected with the actual organizational work. When promoted, many managers become increasingly concerned that they will lose touch with many of the organizational operations. Managers at higher levels usually have less direct contact with customers or shop floor; as a result, they often feel isolated. This, in turn, may lead to anxiety. Such managers try to seek as many information as possible to reduce this anxiety. Apart from driven by unreasonable anxiety, their attempt to stay connected is usually unplanned. They try to collect information through numerous reports, one-on-one conversations and meetings; but unfortunately, they end up with the same basic data – a sheer wastage of time.

The tendency of a manger towards operational focus, when combined with the unintentional need for more direct information creates a culture of micromanagement within the organization. The good news is that it is possible to resolve these unconscious patterns, once discovered. However, the managers need to confront their patterns. Instead of direct observation, they need to learn to lead through an instrument panel, which should not become overwhelming for their subordinates.