What is a Micromanager?
A micromanager is a manager who is excessively involved in employees’ supervision. A micromanager closely monitors employee’s actions and business processes with the intention of criticizing, rather than delegating tasks and offering support.
A micromanager tends to be infuriated when an employee makes a decision without consulting them, even if the decision is within an employee’s level of authority. Because of their excessive lack of faith, micromanagers can be overly demoralizing, demotivating, and frustrating to their subordinates, creating an exhaustive working environment.
- A micromanager is a manager who is heavily involved in supervising employees and is rarely satisfied with his team’s work.
- A macro-manager is different from a micromanager, in that the former defines duties, give more details about a project, and leaves the team to work on its own.
- Due to the excessive involvement in supervision, micromanagers can be overly demotivating and demoralizing to their juniors.
Decision-Making Under a Micromanager
While organizations led by micromanagers may get results in the short term, such a leadership style may negatively affect the organization and its employees in the long term. Micromanagement is associated with decreased productivity, and it renders a company out of capacity to get important things done. The perceived mistrust in subordinates’ competence makes a micromanager condescending.
Staff cannot provide any input, as their opinions are not considered before making any decision. A micromanager is akin to an autocratic leader, where the entire power and decision-making authority rests on one.
Companies that implement the micromanagement management style create an atmosphere of insecurity and lack of confidence for employees. Such a leadership approach is too rigid for daily operational matters to the point of missing the broader prospect and ultimately failing to plan for the expansion of departments and organizations.
Characteristics of a Micromanager
Some of the common features of leaders with a micromanagement leadership style include:
- Bothersome and second-guesses every decision employees make
- Is rarely satisfied with deliverables and prefers to be cc’ed on emails
- Constantly asking for unnecessary and detailed updates and reports
- Narcissist, i.e., they use power excessively and abuse subordinates to meet their own ends
- Delegate work to staff and then micromanage staff’s performance to take credit for the stellar performance and distance from blame in case of negative performance
- Leave no room for employees to take initiative by delegating both what needs to be done and how it should be done
- Pays too much attention to unimportant details
The forbearing characteristics show that micromanagers struggle with meeting deadlines since some of the work needs to be redone, while valuable time is spent focusing on trivial details. As a result, team members end up being frustrated and resentful of their work. It may lead to low employee morale and, eventually, employee turnover, leading to stunted or failed projects. Micromanaging leadership style is thus ineffective.
Causes of Micromanagement Leadership Style
Managers in various settings exhibit a micromanager’s leadership method. There are individual and organizational-related factors that trigger a micromanagement leadership style. Some of the individual features that may lead to a micromanager include perception of self-reliance and capability, insecurity about one’s leadership position, and familiarity towards a crisis.
In the same vein, organizational triggers that bring a leader to micromanage are organizational structure and hierarchy, organizational culture, lack of trust in employees, fear of negative outcomes, feeling powerless, and attributes of subordinates.
Macro-manager vs. Micromanager
A sharp contrast exists between a macro-manager and a micromanager based on their attributes. A macro-manager is characterized by an effective leadership style. Such a type of leader usually defines duties, as well as provides further instructions and leaves employees to perform their work. It is explained by the confidence a macro-manager bestows on his or her team.
Comparatively, a micromanager will use most of his time performing supervisory duties by demanding frequent work reports and making a big deal out of minor details, time that could’ve been used to accomplish other important things.
Benefits of a Micromanager
Despite the negative attributes of micromanagers, there are several perceived benefits from the leadership approach. The most notable benefit is that micromanagers control an organization’s output and not employees. Micromanagers also feel that they understand their subordinates at a personal level better than macro-managers, hence preparing them to handle bigger tasks in the future.
Most micromanagers argue that, through constant monitoring, they can project the future and hedge risks. Employees can also benefit from a micromanager by getting feedback and correcting their flaws.
Strategies to Reform a Micromanager
- Avoid making excuses that may lead to rendering employees demoralized.
- Set a series of metrics that are geared towards success for specific projects and overlook any other undefined detail.
- Use deadlines to manage every assigned project and demand updates and reports within a reasonable time limit.
- Embrace an open-door policy for every team member to seek further guidance and important insights regarding their roles and duties.
- Delegate only necessary work that needs to be done and avoid telling employees how they should work.
- Expect to win occasionally and avoid the fear of failure.
- Give credit where it is due to encourage and motivate employees for better productivity and job satisfaction.
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