Micromanage – “to manage or control with excessive attention to minor details”
I sat on a board of directors with a guy whose favorite comment was
“Let’s not micromanage the situation.” That was his favorite comment
until we discussed an area he was really worried about, and then he
conveniently forgot the term.
I worked with this girl who complained incessantly about our
micromanaging supervisor and “his big, fancy MBA.” That is, she
complained until she was promoted to supervisor. At which time she
became the queen of all micromanagers.
I guess what I’m saying is that micromanagement is in the eye of the
beholder. The one who is micromanaging feels seem like they are just
doing their job and looking out for the best interest of the company.
To the one who is being micromanaged, all they feel is the boss’s
breath on the back of their neck.
No matter who is involved, this inefficient management style amounts
to a petty attempt at governing every detail of your business with
The Problems With Micromanagement
- Micromanaging wastes time and resources.
When you micromanage, you cheat yourself out of the time and talent
you have paid for. If a boss must look over an employee’s shoulder,
either that employee is incompetent or unnecessary – either way the
organization doesn’t need them. Speaking of unnecessary, if you don’t
have anything better to do than to look over an employee’s shoulder
then you can’t be doing your job as a leader.
- Micromanaging creates a climate of distrust.
At its core, micromanagement is based on a lack of faith and trust
in other people. If you believe you must check on every detail, either
you have failed to properly communicate the expectations of the
assignment or you are terminally insecure as a leader.
- Micromanaging doesn’t allow for growth.
In a climate of micromanagement, employees will never reach their
full potential because their bosses are unwilling to allow them to
assume full responsibility for a project. This repressive style will
stunt creativity and hinder overall progress.
The problem is larger than you may think. In My Way or the Highway – the Micromanagement Survival Guide,
Harry E. Chambers writes that “four out of five workers say they’ve
been a victim of micromanagement.” That’s 80% of your workforce. What
do you do now?
The Solution To Micromanagement
Having been on both sides of the issue, I have developed a four-step solution to micromanaging using the acronym COSE.
The COSE Way
Step 1. Cooperation
Inform them of The COSE Way steps so they will understand the process.
Work together the first time through the assignment, gradually handing
off responsibility to them as they learn.
Step 2. Observation
Watch them perform the assign task, offering advice when required. This
may seem like micromanagement but remember, it is only for a brief and
specifically allotted time.
Step 3. Separation
Walk away from the project, allowing them to work alone. This is the
most difficult part for habitual micromanagers but it is essential to
Step 4. Evaluation
Set a time to evaluate the employee’s progress and provide more
coaching if needed. If no further instruction is needed back away and
let them work. At this point you may want to try something new – doing
you own work.
While some may say, “If you want something done right you have to do
it yourself.” A confident leader says “if you want something done
right, COSE someone to do it.”
Michael E. Waddell