Micromanagement is a management style characterized primarily by the exertion of excessive attention to minor details and control over employees or subordinates, as well as situations. Hence, a micromanager would wield unnecessary supervision to his or her team, as well as closely observe or monitor individual team members.
Cons: Disadvantages of Micromanagement
A lot of materials and resources have been written against micromanagement. Some authors in the field of management and leadership have called it a costly approach in leading people. Some went as far as calling it a “disease” in an organization or an “adversary” in the workplace.
The effects of this management style on employees have been studied and discussed widely. A Harvard Business Review article by Christina Bielazka-DuVernay explained that it can lead employees to think that their leaders do not trust their work or judgment, thus creating hostility and promoting a dysfunctional work environment.
A literature review by S. K. Collins and K. S. Collins also enumerated some of the symptoms and negative effects of prevalent micromanagement in an organization. These include low employee morale, high employee turnover, reduction in poverty, customer dissatisfaction, and decreased growth potential of teams and departments.
Below are the weaknesses, drawbacks, and limitations of this management style:
• One of the disadvantages of micromanagement is employee resentment. Too much control can result in these individuals resenting not only their managers but also the entire organization and their specific jobs.
• It can also result in alienation. Close monitoring can make individuals feel psychologically estranged from their roles in the organization and their contributions or outputs due to micromanagers exerting too much control on what they do while becoming too critical of what they have accomplished.
• Furthermore, because it shares some characteristics of transactional leadership and an authoritarian approach to management, micromanaging can miss out on the advantages of transformational leadership to include promotion of creativity and innovation through collaboration, fostering positive organizational change, and building and maintaining satisfaction at the workplace.
• Note that dissatisfied employees can employee turnovers. Competitive individuals who value some degree of autonomy and respond well to transformational leadership would end up transferring to organizations that are aligned with their values and attitudes.
• Another drawback of micromanagement is that it can lead to inefficiencies across the organization. Managers who adhere to this style are not maximizing the advantages of task delegation while also effectively restricting the capacity of their subordinates to become self-sufficient, thus hampering professional and collective growth.
• The absence of some degree of self-sufficiency makes subordinates too dependent on the actions and decisions of top managers. Too much interferences and systematized bureaucracy can result in backlogs and delays.
• Because micromanaging requires exerting excessive control and focusing too much on details, it can be taxing to managers. These managers could serve their teams and organizations better if they focus on macro-level issues to include organizational growth and expansion, innovation, and opportunity identification, among others.
Pros: Advantages of Micromanagement
Undeniably, there is a negative connotation toward micromanagement. However, in specific scenarios that require more than an oversight, it can be useful to both the manager and his or her people, as well as practical and beneficial to the entire team or organization.
A literature review by N. Mishra, M. Rajkumar, and R. Mishra that aims to understand the concept of micromanagement from the concept of employers and managers revealed that this management style can help prepare subordinates to handle bigger problems in the future. Furthermore, it is also the most suitable management approach when leading a team in new projects or uncharted business goals.
Based on the same review, there are certain circumstances in which this style of management is essential, particularly when exhibited in the right manner and at right time. These include resolving smaller issues before they become big, if the entire organization is in a crisis or serious problem, and when there is something new within the team or organization.
Another explorative paper published in the American Journal of Healthy-System Pharmacy noted that effectively micromanaging an organization and the people means differentiating between setting goals and dictating each detail of a process, as well as knowing when to get involved and when to get out of the way.
Below are the strengths, benefits, and applications of this management style:
• Control is one of the advantages of micromanagement. There are instances in which exerting a higher level of control over people or situations can help resolve problems at the workplace or issues within the entire organization
• An example would be underperforming but highly competent subordinates or demotivated teammates who started as performers. Micromanaging can help managers uncover and maximize the full potential of these individuals because it provides an opportunity for in-depth coaching and extra performance monitoring.
• Smaller projects or startup organizations with a small number of people would also benefit from this management style. A micromanager can help lay down the groundwork needed for the project or organization to become self-sustaining.
• Examples of these groundworks include designing the organizational structure by defining different processes, assembling teams and defining specific roles and responsibilities, and performance monitoring at different levels as part of designing the control mechanisms and specific processes needed by the organization.
• Fact-finding is another application of micromanagement. Because this process would require a thorough evaluation of the operations and performance of teams or the entire organization, micromanaging different facets of the workplace can help in uncovering problems or issues hiding beneath the surface.
• Micromanagers also have some advantages over macro-managers. Specifically, it is better to have these individuals lead a team or organization than have someone who delegates without knowing what it takes to get things done.
FURTHER READINGS AND REFERENCES
- Bielazka-DuVernay, C. 2008. “Micromanage at Your Peril.” Harvard Business Review. Available online
- Collins, S. K. and Collins, K. S. 2002. “Micromanagement—A Costly Management Style.” Radiology Management. 24(6):32-5. PMID: 12510608
- Delgado, O., Strauss, E. M., and Ortega, M. A. 2015. “Micromanagement: When to Avoid It and How to Use It Effectively.” American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. 72(10): 772-776. DOI: 2146/ajhp140125
- Mishra, N., Rajkumar, M., and Mishra, R. 2019. “Micromanagement: An Employers’ Perspective.” International Journal of Scientific & Technology Research. 8(1). ISSN: 227708616. Available via PDF
- White, R. D. 2010. “The Micromanagement Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Cure.” Public Personnel Management. 39(1): 71-76. DOI: 1177/009102601003900105