Micromanagement – What is it and How to do it Well

Micromanagement Comic
Posted by: Ivy Gutierrez Category: Business Comments: 0 Post Date: September 5, 2017

Micromanagement – What is it and How to do it Well

In most offices and conference rooms micromanaging is considered a dreaded term, almost a slur. Googling the term might take you to articles likes How to manage a micromanaging boss or what the dangers of micromanagement are. But let’s take a step back and reevaluate this belief.

What is Micromanagement?

Merriam Webster dictionary defines the verb to micromanage as:

  • transitive verb:  to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details
  • intransitive verb:  to direct or conduct the activities of a group or an enterprise by micromanaging them

Micromanagement is seen as overbearing and suffocating behavior of the employer that spends too much time with someone’s else’s tasks. A study published in Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that people who believe they are being watched preform at a lower level.

Why Does Micromanagement Happen?

For some people, it is simply who they are. They might have a hard time trusting someone else or letting go of an old job they had. Many startup owners had a hard time adjusting to hiring someone to do what they used to be doing. Not only do they know exactly what and how should be done, but they are emotionally invested in the job and the company. Letting go is scary and dangerous and part of the growing pains.

Of course, it is true that the manager knows what their team does and the best way to do it. It comes with experience. But, if a manager spends his time on what other people should be doing, it means he does not have enough time for the long-term responsibilities of the department, like the department’s strategic contribution to the organization. And that is exactly what he/she should be doing.

Micropraise instead micromanagemenet.

Micromanagement Done Well – Two Simple Rules

If you do it right, micromanagement can be a wonderful tool for the organization and it can make everyone’s work easier. Let’s look at two important ways you can micromanage well and to the benefit of your employees and your company.

1. Create Systems and Structures for Your Team

Think about the workflow and see if you can do anything to streamline it. If you can, introduce those systems and structures. For example, if you are checking on your employees often because they are not managing their own time effectively and meeting goals, perhaps project management software like Asana or Basecamp will help. Your employees will be able to see their tasks clearly. You will be able to check in without actually interrupting them.

Let’s say you have a retail business. If you are managing a store or a restaurant, you must remember the times of calculating hand written bills and taking orders by hand. Equipping your employees with handheld devices on which they can take orders will diminish the amount of time and mistakes that happen. Mobile point of sale will help you get the customers out the door quickly and make them happier with their experience.

2. Practice “The Accordion Principle”

Jack Welch, the father of the famous rank-and-yank system, is defending micromanagement. He sees two kinds of micromanagement, the bad one where the boss is being a back seat driver, and the good one where the boss is rolling up his sleeves because the employee cannot do it alone. The good kind of micromanagement is the one he approves of, and he calls it “the accordion approach“. It is when you get very close to your people and their work when they need you — that is, when your help matters — and pull back when you’re extraneous.

So how do you know when your help matters? Welch says:

Your help matters when you bring unique expertise to a situation, or you can expedite things by dint of your authority, or both.

If you need help realizing when it is a good moment to get close, Entrepreneur offers this list. Micromanage when:

  • time is of the essence,
  • you are  implementing a new approach,
  • the project has very specific results,
  • things are not going well.
Ivy Gutierrez

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