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Hi forum?
what is your view the best definition of micromanagment?
is it always (by definition) a bad way to manage? Are there some situation when you are obliged to micromanage?

vadim

juliahhavener's picture

I cannot think of an instance where I would find micromanagement truly effective. To me, micromanagement presents a fundamental lack of faith in the team I have built, and it undermines the basic principles of delegation and individual development.

If you consider micromanagement might be needed, perhaps to straighten up a project or team gone awry, I'd step back from that a bit. Get weekly one on ones in place, lavish feedback (both adjusting and affirmative) on the team, and make building effective relationships with those directs your number one priority.

It's not to say micromanaging is 'bad'. It's not effective, in my opinion. I've seen some micromanagement come down from on high recently and the additional stress to our supervisors because of it has been immense. It's drained their available time significantly, ultimately [b]reducing[/b] their effectiveness with their teams. Of course, the intent of that micromanagement was to have the opposite effect!

Julia

Mark's picture

No offense, but I don't think questions like this are terribly helpful. This question is about theory, and the practice of management is not purely the application of theory. No theory holds up in every situation.

[b]Manager Tools is about the [i]practice [/i]of management.[/b]

Virtually any answer about theory can be proven wrong with a unique situation. I don't want to start a trend where members try to help others by sharing their theory answers, only to be the victim of a "gotcha" scenario that proves the theory to be invalid, and which bolsters the original poster's point... perhaps mistakenly.

Definition questions ALWAYS concern me.

So, again, no offense...and: what's your situation, what do you need to do, and how can we help?

Mark

akinsgre's picture

[quote="juliahdoyle"]I cannot think of an instance where I would find micromanagement truly effective. [/quote]

I would have agreed wholeheartedly until recently.

In an article about Jim Tressel, current coach of The Ohio State University football team, the writer suggested that he is a great coach because he is so good at micromanaging.

Since Tressel's obviously effective, and so many aspects of coaching a football team are relevant to everyday management, what about micromanaging a football team might be related to everyday "business" management?

-greg

juliahhavener's picture

To qualify my response, my definition of 'micromanaging' is one who feels they must have absolute control/knowledge of every decision/action of their directs.

I'd have to read the article to see how he uses 'micromanagement' to succeed as a coach to really respond. Do you have a link (or source) to the article? I'd be very interested to read it.

TimBryce's picture

Vadim -

Micromanagement simply refers to a Theory X dictatorial style of
management. Under this scenario, the manager is spending more
time supervising as opposed to managing. This syle of management
has been coming back into vogue these days. I don't know why,
probably because of certain managers' egos.

I believe the sports caster was wrong, the football coach is a better
manager than a micromanager. As I admonish my customers, you
should, Manage more, and supervise less."

Hope this helps.

All the Best,

vadim's picture

Hi,

my situation is the following:

I am responsable to develop new operations in foreign markets (some are really start up), and one of my reports is not delivering well (he started 3 month ago to work with us) . I tried to use the MT advices (O3, delegation, feedback etc) but these take time and I have not even because I am pressed by my Boss (the owner of the firm an high D). He wants me to micromanage, saying that this is THE answer.
So the question came from this situation, I am not keen to Micromanage (I never worked in an environment where this behaviour was rewarded, and I dont think it is useful to micromanage) but because I dont thing I can not make mistake I am wondering if my boss is right and in such a situation should I shift from delegation and enpowerment to Micromanagement.

Hope it is clearer now.

Regards

Vadim

akinsgre's picture

[quote="vadim"]Hi,
I am responsable to develop new operations in foreign markets (some are really start up), and one of my reports is not delivering well (he started 3 month ago to work with us) . I tried to use the MT advices (O3, delegation, feedback etc) but these take time and I have not even because I am pressed by my Boss (the owner of the firm an high D). He wants me to micromanage, saying that this is THE answer.
So the question came from this situation, I am not keen to Micromanage (I never worked in an environment where this behaviour was rewarded, and I dont think it is useful to micromanage) but because I dont thing I can not make mistake I am wondering if my boss is right and in such a situation should I shift from delegation and enpowerment to Micromanagement.
[/quote]

Could you delegating training of that under-performer, to one of your top performers?

I think this is what MT talks about when they suggest that you're coaching and not training. Micromanaging is, in a way, attempting to train an under-performer.

However, if you're the best resource to train this employee, then you also need to ask yourself if you'll be most effective diverting some of your valuable time to training.

Mark's picture

Vadim-

Thank you for that information - VERY helpful. My answer is still the same, but now everyone who reads these posts - 5 years from now? - will understand why we both said what we said.

Micromanagement as a primary practice is terribly ineffective, and destroys morale (Sort of important) and high performance (VERY important). It is corrosive. It is practiced by those who are both arrogant and fearful, which is a dangerous combination.

And, what your boss is asking you to do is really NOT micromanagement.

Micromanagement is a sustained, long term practice. It is a WAY of managing ALL THE TIME. Micromanagement is a form of ANTI MANAGER TOOLS management. It is against most everything we stand for.

But being asked to get deeply involved in something is NOT being asked to "be a micromanager". There are those who would say, "he's micromanaging that task!!!". I don't use that language because it's confusing the CONCEPT of micromanaging with the aggressive guidance needed in some situations to make something happen.

Under the circumstances, I would do whatever I could to achieve my objectives. It is possible to be VERY involved (daily updates, specific guidance, tight reporting) without becoming a micromanager.

Ideally, what you would do is be assertive (which will be seen as micromanaging but which you now know better), and while you are doing so, explain what you are doing to your team members, and what you hope to be different the next time something like this happens.

You needn't apologize for getting involved if goals are not being achieved.

Finally: I hate micromanagement, but according to many people who use the term wrongly, I have micromanaged before. It's not a sin unless it happens every day, all the time.

How's that?

Mark

vadim's picture

ok,

I would summarize saying I will apply in an "assertive way" an "aggressive guidance needed [u][b]in some situations [/b][/u]to make something happen".

Vadim

juliahhavener's picture

I'm so glad I kept my council on that one...Mark said what I was thinking so much more eloquently than I would have!

shirgall's picture

To me micromanagement is the feeling that one is not trusted to do one's job unless an excessive level of detail on daily workings is divulged to one's superior. If things are managed correctly the sense of mutual trust is not a factor and it's not called micromanagement, it's called being "involved" or "in touch".

For example, imagine a critical customer situation calls for everything to be dropped and for the customer to be dealt with with a cross-functional team. Daily meetings to discuss everything that's happened is not considered micromanagement if everyone is trusted to do the right thing. Instead the daily meeting is seen as a critical collaborative exercise in communication and problem-solving.

iandstanley's picture

[quote="vadim"]Hi forum?
what is your view the best definition of micromanagment?
is it always (by definition) a bad way to manage? Are there some situation when you are obliged to micromanage?

vadim[/quote]

I once heard a quote that ran basically

[quote]You don't trust your team!
I do trust my team!
Then why are your tasks predominantly under 2 days[/quote]

Now this definition works for projects of a certain size.

But the real question i think you should be asking may be ....

How large a task can I trust my team members with?

I suggest that you review the delegation podcasts that help you scope out the individual task size, reporting and issue raising

If you give your team that lattitude it usually pays off for all but the poorest performers. But do ensure that the reporting is kept to or standards can quickly slip.

Hamish_Blair's picture

My copy of the Effective Manager just arrived. I bought two copies - not sure whom I will give the second copy to.

The Things I think email last night stated: 

"2. Communication.  Overcommunicate.  Not just email.  More frequently than once a week.  Double-check.  Ask, and ask and ask again.  Don’t assume. No fear."

Some people confuse being asked to communicate the status of something as an indication of the lack of trust in them. They don't realise that as managers we have greater responsibility for the outcome of the tasks we have delegated to them. The point is we have not abdicated responsibilty, and if something goes wrong, then as managers we are not absolved from dealing with the fallout.

Others misunderstand being asked to communicate as being micro-managed. Clearly they don't understand what micro-management is (see page 59-60 of the Effective Manager quoteed here)

I have found this article on the 5 Levels of Delegation from Mcihael Hyatt to be helpful, especially when combined with an understanding of a Trust vs. Competence matrix. 

Micro-managing is delegation at Level 1.

The tTrust vs. Competence matrix considers the following scenarios:

  • High Trust + High Competence: Delegate at level 5 "Make whatever decision you think is best. No need to report back. I trust you completely. I know you will follow through. You have my full support"
  • Low Trust + Low Competence: figure out how to move them on
  • High Trust + Low Competence: Delegagte at Levels 1 - 3 depending on the task and their competence. But above all - coach them through it so they build competence (as someone once said "good juudegement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement") 
  • Low Trust + High Competence: this is the tricky area - and perhaps where micro-managing is justified

So to sum up, delegation but still requiring reporting back does not mean a lack of trust - more likely that there are some responsibilities which are non-delegable. Reporting up is not micr-managing either.

Thoughts?