(Micro)management – it’s the dose alone that makes the poison
“I make sure that the tasks get done. How do I do that? I give precise instructions and check carefully so that no mistakes are made. But then mistakes do happen and I don’t understand that.ˮ
“When I let my team work independently on the last project, there were problems with clients and since then I have always had to be particularly careful.ˮ
“I’m afraid that difficulties will arise in my absence and am even afraid to take a longer vacation.ˮ
“No one knows the ropes as well as I do. I can’t rely on anyone because my employees are not ready to take responsibility.ˮ
2 categories of micromanagers and their motivation
If, as a manager, you share these thoughts then you’re in good company: The statements above come from very committed and honest leaders, whom I have had to opportunity to coach. For these managers, this way of leading is a means to an end, which is to do the job perfectly. They worry about possible mistakes. Basically, they want the best for their team and are keen to reflect on and change their leadership style.
Of course, other managers also exist who want authority at any price. They use control as an instrument of authority and are neither willing to reflect nor to change their attitude. As far as this category of managers is concerned, the employees are always to blame if something doesn’t go their way. But YOU aren’t part of this group, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this article….
So you may be asking yourself:
• What is preventing your team from fulfilling your dream achievement?
• How do your employees feel about your leadership attitude?
• In which situation is micromanagement useful and when is it inappropriate?
The major problems with micromanagement
What in actual fact is micromanagement? This is the name given to the type of leadership in which – to put it bluntly – the boss interferes in everything, controls details, issues instructions, which sometimes fail to follow a common thread from the staff’s point of view (or are even contradictory), raps the staff on the knuckles and is permanently dissatisfied. In many cases micromanagers are unaware that their attitude leads to serious problems in the workforce.
So what motivates managers to reflect on and change their leadership role and style? In leadership coaching the problems are presented as follows:
• Team performance is mediocre – at best,
• Stagnation or progress is very slow – if at all,
• The mood in the team is bad, conflicts are simmering, burnout is on the rise,
• The learning effect and motivation are missing.
As always in coaching, we consider the problem from different perspectives and arrive at the question “When and to what end is this detail-focused leadership style useful?ˮ
When is micromanagement appropriate?
1) For specific tasks, for a limited period of time
If you want to achieve a specific result for a specific project in a limited timeframe, precise instructions and careful control can be useful. Read about structure in leadership here.
2) Time constraints
If you are pressed for time and have had to take on tasks at short notice, e.g. if your client or superior assigns you an urgent task or you have to act quickly in an emergency situation to prevent damage.
3) Lack of resources
If you lack the necessary resources for your work, e.g. personnel, important information or know-how, then you – as a manager – must look very carefully or even step in as a team member to fill any gaps.
4) Guidance for new staff
New employees, especially beginners, require guidance in the initial phase. Even if your company has a good on-boarding program, your interest as a manager is essential for newcomers.
When is micromanagement inappropriate?
1) Team development
Team development needs leadership that reacts flexibly to different situations and individual team members – focusing on inclusion and team spirit. The role of the leader who wants to develop his/her team is more wide-ranging than just dividing up the work and controlling it. Attitude and social competence are and remain the hallmarks of successful leadership and are needed now more than ever.
If it’s difficult to create a basis of trust in your team, it’s time to take a close look at the company culture and your own leadership style. When people live and work in an environment in which little or no trust is placed in them, they develop their own strategies: Some adapt and work to rule, some outsmart the system and others leave it. Here you can read more about the relationship between trust and control in remote leadership.
If you, as a manager, have doubts about the expertise of your staff, then it makes sense to question why your team doesn’t have the required know-how and is therefore unable to deliver the necessary performance. The next step is to involve your HR manager and to make sure together that your employees acquire the missing know-how quickly. High-performing teams need professional expertise – at managerial level, too.
Micromanagement and what else?
One thing is clear – micromanagement can be useful selectively and in small doses. But if the dose is exceeded, it has a poisonous effect on your team, on your company and on yourself.
Do you have the impression that you’re lacking a specific management ingredient here? A certain something that helps you motivate your employees to attain your goal? Something that can make the road to success faster and easier for you and your team?
Please don’t forget that during this challenging time both you and your employees are struggling with uncertainty and need mental strength – so strengthen each other! I am here for you and can provide special support to help you and your team face uncertainty on the job.You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or +436602400135.
Your Raluca Ionescu