Fast Company

The Pitfalls of Micromanaging

The late nights studying your craft, hours spent pouring over books, the pain of listening to that monotoned professor in college, and the endless cramming sessions for exams all so you can earn a diploma and start working towards your dream job. Once you enter the job market, the dues paying is far from over. As a lowly intern, you submit to making countless coffee and donut runs and other less than glamorous tasks so you could gain the knowledge, skill and experience to be called a professional in your field. After all that, you finally get the job of your dreams and you run into the ultimate dream-killer - the micromanager.

Look, I understand the need of a manager to comprehend and keep track of what’s going on in a project, but there comes a moment when you as a manager have to trust in your team’s ability to excel and get the job done. Having your hand in every little thing actually hurts your team on many fronts.

  1. It creates a stifling work environment that works against the natural creativity that’s needed to get the job done. When a person feels like their every move is being watched, they are less likely to take a chance and think outside the box on a project. You want a creative and vibrant team? Then give them a little space to work their magic.
  2. When people feel like they are not trusted it creates resentment. As a professional, you always want to feel like the people who hired you are confident that you have what it takes to get the job done. Micromanaging undermines that by actually making the person feel like they need to have their hand held. You hired smart, capable people, so trust them to be just that.
  3. It lowers accountability on your team by the simple fact that you are involved in everything and therefore you’re partly to blame when a project falls apart or a deadline is missed. Part of handing out responsibilities and duties is the clear understanding that you are making that person accountable. If you are too involved then you can’t really hold a person accountable without also fingering yourself.
  4. Last but not least, it’s just bad use of your time as a manager. As a manager, there are more important things to do then involving yourself in every little detail of a project. As a project manager, you need to maintain an overview of the project so that you can keep it on track, make any needed changes to its direction and etc. You can’t do that efficiently or with great result if you are micromanaging.

In the end, it’s just best to make sure that you hire skilled people who are genuinely passionate about what they do, have an innate desire to excel and are excited about the vision, product and/or service of your company. That way you can just let them do what they do without hovering over them and be confident that the end result will be great.

-- Douglas Paul

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2 Comments

  • Kevin Berchelmann

    The dangers to me are straightforward: in times of economic scrutiny, we need employees to be thinking MORE, not less. A controlling environment may aid in the immediate task at hand, but from a downside, it also:

    1. Limits an employee's growth, and subsequently their inherent ability to "do more (presumably 'with less')."

    2. Micro-managing, to be effective, consumes an inordinate amount of management's time; effectively empowered employees (don't get lost w/the fad word, just the concept) free up a manager's time to think and contribute -- presumably at a higher level of value.

    3. Micro-managing frequently over-tasks managers unaccustomed to it. In an effort to "touch" everything, they become micro-MEDDLERS instead, interjecting just enough to cause chaos and confusion, then flitting off to the next victim.

    Counter-intuitively, micromanaging provides less reaction to turbulent times instead of more, burns out managers, and frustrates employees.Better to simply constrict existing parameters at some reasonable level, such as spending levels and authorities, and micro-manage by exception in those few areas (or with those few people) who need it.

    I can tell you with certainty that managers prone to micromanaging anyway will feel vindicated, and that "this is THEIR time" to shine. It's not... quite the opposite.

    KB

    --
    D. Kevin Berchelmann
    Triangle Performance, LLC
    #9 on Houston's FAST 100!
    www.triangleperformance.com
    blog.triangleperformance.com