Micromanager’s Negative Connotations
When we hear leaders and employees mention the word ‘micromanaging’, they almost spit the word out in disgust. The concept is universally loathed in organizations. Most managers would probably prefer to be called anything rather than a “micromanager”. What we see more often than micromanagers are leaders who abdicate essential management responsibilities for fear of being perceived as micromanaging. This fear leads many managers to miss applying some essential elements of effective management.
Micromanagers Control Decisions vs Guiding Results
Here’s the difference: Micromanagers always see themselves as the only available subject matter expert. They slow down progress because all decisions need to come through them. They become significant bottlenecks to getting things done because their people are not allowed to make choices about issues that directly impact them. Micromanagers get involved in each step of the process and focus on the need to control every decision point, rather than providing clear guidelines and focusing on results.
The Opposite of Micromanager is No Better
On the other hand, some “leaders” relinquish too much of their managerial authority. Comments such as: “they’re adults, I’m not here to babysit”; or “for the amount of money we’re paying them they should know how to do what I’m asking them to do;” or “I shouldn’t have to tell them they are doing a good job, they’re paid well and they know how I feel about them” are all signs of this condition. This mindset forces managers to step away too often and to relinquish too much control. These managers aren’t clear enough on expectations and desired outcomes. They don’t provide enough feedback, and when they do it’s not specific enough. They don’t provide the appropriate support, either by reducing obstacles to progress or building collaboration among the team.
Team Check: How Effective is Your Management AND Leadership?
Many management training classes have delineated the difference between leaders and managers; the classic “doing things right” vs. “doing the right things”. What many leaders forget is there are many basic elements of “management”, or doing things right, which are a part of being an effective leader. It’s not a separate job. As a leader, you should check in with your team to see if you really are perceived as a micromanager. If not, make sure your “leadership” style hasn’t swung too far the other way. Be sure you are providing enough direction, resources, and support for your people to encourage them to be as effective as they can be.