Leadership Today. The Menace of Micromanagement

Micromanagement is generally not the preferred method for a manager to lead his or her team.

For instance, here’s a scenario of what can happen with a company if micromanagement is dominant:

Slowly, but surely, your once vibrant company has gone eerily quiet. But for the occasional shouting between peers, blaming each other for little ‘mistakes’, the silence is deafening. Why? Because all the enthusiastic, intelligent, loud mouth, positive and empowered leaders have left. Sadly it seems that they had enough of being micromanaged. Indeed, many of them are now with your competitors…

However, in spite of the obvious disaster happening in real time, the menace of micromanagement continues.  As a result, every member of your company is affected badly. Even more, your previously loyal customers and suppliers are now doing business with your competitors!

Indeed, your company’s stubborn practice of micromanaging its people is busy to destroy it…

What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes and/or controls and/or reminds the work of their subordinates or employees (Wikipedia).

Even more, micromanagement refers to the control of an enterprise in every particular and to the smallest detail, with the effect of obstructing progress and neglecting broader, higher-level policy issues 1.

Why does micromanagement exist?

Organizational culture plays a definite role in how companies are managed. For example, micromanagement is more prevalent with companies that have powerful leaders.

In fact, employees, in high-power companies, over time, develop a mindset of unwillingness to participate in decisions. Subsequently, they are content with their managers making decisions and giving them instructions, which they follow passively 4.

On the other hand, at the individual manager’s level, is micromanagement, at its worst, a compulsive, behavioral disorder 1. In fact, many leaders that practice micromanaging do so because they may feel unsure and self-doubting 1. Additionally, they may micromanage their subordinates to demonstrate their superiority and dominance 2.

Common signs that bosses are micromanaging

  1. They don’t delegate.
  2. You need to submit a report for almost everything that you do.
  3. You’re not allow to make decisions on your own.
  4. Your supervisor is always finding fault of what you are doing.
  5. Skills and knowledge are hard to get from your boss.
  6. They many times don’t see the ‘bigger picture’.
  7. Micromanagers don’t like to hear feedback from their subordinates.
  8. They take forever to make operational decisions.

The Menace of Micromanagement

Micromanagement can affect communication, innovation, problem solving, and employee motivation in the workplace 3.

The consequences of micromanagement are:

  • The morale of employees is affected negatively.
  • It stifles creativity.
  • Employees battle to motivate themselves.
  • Work performance goes down.
  • Subordinates lose their confidence.
  • Employees are feeling disempowered.
  • Increasing staff turnover rate.
  • Teamwork is destroyed.

How should you react to micromanagement?

Steve Mahoney writing in Monster suggests the following to help solve your micromanagement dilemma:

  • Have a look at yourself. Maybe your behavior is the reason why you’re micromanaged?
  • Be proactive – send your supervisor the reports before he/she is asking for it.
  • Try to understand your boss’s situation.
  • Tell your boss how you feel.
  • If all else fails, get another job (to keep your sanity).

Concluding

Indeed, micromanagement is mainly result of the power distance between top management, supervisors and subordinates. As a result, one person at the top wants to control every aspect of the company, barking instructions and demand unrealistic results. Unfortunately, the supervisors and subordinates are forced to take responsibility for decisions they had not contributed to.

Micromanagement is definitely not sustainable nor defendable. What a menace!

Read also: Leadership Today – What makes an Extraordinary Leader?

Notes

1 White Jr, R.D. 2010. The micromanagement disease: Symptoms, diagnosis, and cure, Public Personnel Management, 39(1):71-76.

2 Tavanti, M. 2011. Managing toxic leaders: Dysfunctional patterns in organizational leadership and how to deal with them, Human Resource Management, 127-136.

3 Gardanova, Z., Nikitina, N. and Strielkowski, W. 2019. Critical leadership and set-up-to-fail syndrome. In 4th International Conference on Social, Business, and Academic Leadership (ICSBAL, October 2019),15-19. Atlantis Press.

4 Khatri, N. 2009. Consequences of power distance orientation in organisations, Vision, 13(1):1-9.

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Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

Published by

Douw G Steyn

Management consultant, blog writer, dreamer

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