Avoid the practices associated with micromanagement

The idea for today is both simple and complex: avoid the practices associated with micromanagement.

What is micromanagement?

BNET.com, an online publication that “provides action-oriented intelligence for managerial professionals that’s smart, useful, and always right at your fingertips”, defines micromanagement as:

a style of management where a manager becomes over-involved in the details of the work of subordinates, resulting in the manager making every decision in an organization, no matter how trivial. Micromanagement is a euphemism for meddling, and has the opposite effect to empowerment. Micromanagement can retard the progress of organizational development, as it robs employees of their self-respect.

BNET’s definition is consistent with that provided by Merriam-Webster:

to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details

Why is it important that we are aware of and avoid micromanagement?

Those who micro-mange are hurting our institution’s ability to fulfill its mission and goals — micromanagement has a negative effect on “communication, creativity, productivity, problem-solving, flexibility, trust, feedback, and openness” (Fracaro, 2007). Trust is consistently at the top of employee’s list of what they want from their work place — credibility, respect, and fairness are also amongst the top five things listed in the Great Place to Work Model (Newing, 2006). Employees need to see the organization be willing and able to make changes. For example, at Microsoft two managers were moved after two rounds of unsatisfactory staff surveys (Newing, 2006). A decision to do nothing to support staff will yield dire long term results and impacts on productivity and return on investment.

What can be done about micromanagement?

Fracaro recommends taking three simple/logical steps to reverse symptoms of micromanagement — steps that can enable any manager to become more effective:

1. Determine if you are indeed micromanaging your employees before initiating subsequent steps to correct your harmful behavior. 2. Determine who or what you are micromanaging, when and where it is taking place, and why it is occurring. 3. To change your behavior, acknowledge several factors that von must accept, communicate with your employees in a specific way to foster their input, and choose one or more alternative methods to cease your micromanagement.

Additional resources

The following resources may be valuable in conceptualizing micromanagement, identifying the risks of being a micro-manager, and strategies for avoiding negative habits, practices and actions associated with micromanagement. The articles listed in this resource section describe strategies for all levels of an organization: staff, management, directors, and executive boards.

Micromanaging Defined — And How to Avoid It

Overview: Successful managers know when micromanaging is okay and when it’s not okay. In short, micromanagement is not okay when it affects the mental health of your staff or the efficiency of your organization.

This white paper is a great resource for business leaders who want to avoid micromanaging. It defines micromanagement and explains:

  • When micromanaging is okay
  • When micromanaging is not okay
  • What constitutes unnecessary input or oversight
  • How to recognize a micromanager
  • How to change your micromanaging tendencies

10 Tips for Preventing Micromanagement [as a member of a board of directors, or as an executive director]
by Richard Male & Associates

Management do’s and don’ts, according to your staff
by Toni Bowers, TechRepublic

Vol. 10 No. 05 Managing Micromanagement Part 1
The Why and How: A guide to make everyone’s life a little better.

By Julie Adamen

How to Motivate Under-Performing Personnel
by Vicky Therese Davis, William R. Patterson, D. Marq

How to Keep Trustees From Being Micromanagers
By RICHARD P. CHAIT, Chronicle of Higher Education


Definition of micromanage – Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved October 2, 2007, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=micromanaged

Fracaro, K. E. (2007). The consequences of micromanaging. Contract Management, 47(7), 4-7. Retrieved October 2, 2007, http://search.proquest.com/docview/196310446

Micromanagement: Definition. BNET. Retrieved October 2, 2007, from http://dictionary.bnet.com/definition/micromanagement.html

Newing, R. (2006). Key factor in workplaces that work TRUST: Credibility, respect and fairness all rely on building a sense of trust. Financial Times, 7. Retrieved October 2, 2007, http://search.proquest.com/docview/249909409

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