There are many different styles of management in the business world today and these all depend on the personality of the manager or management of the office in question.

Micromanagement is a term that we all hear about on an ongoing basis, generally in a negative tone I would have to say. The questions for today are, are you familiar with micromanagement and if so can it be used in a positive way?

Micromanagement is a management style where the manager closely observes, controls and monitors the work of their subordinates or employees. What we would traditionally observe is a situation where the manager sets the tasks, KPI’s or duties for the day/week/month and then is constantly “following up” with their team to see how everyone is progressing.

As mentioned this type of management generally has a negative  connotation as this process is generally compared with harassment of the team rather than a good management system to use and can foster bad moral within any team.

Some people consider micromanagement as an “ineffective leadership”. But there are several occasions and situations in which micromanagement might be the most effective factor in your leadership toolbox. If you find yourself facing any of these challenges below, micromanagement might be a valid and perfectly acceptable option.

  • When you want the business to go in a certain or new direction and going down the same path or direction as you were previously

In a perfect world employees should only need to be checked or managed every now and then. However, sometimes, there are some employees that can wander off the track and leaving them on their own can lead to costly mistakes that can affect the business. Also when heading in new directions more hands on management can also be required to ascertain that everything is going well. In these situations, a little micromanagement isn’t a bad idea.

  • When employees prefer to be micromanaged

Yes some employees work best when they are micromanaged. You will be able to see this from previous work habits and also your own observations as well. If you have team members that do need this then why would you veer away from micromanagement when the employee excels under this type of management.

  • When you need to get specific results within a specific time frame.

Employees who are working on achieving set targets may need to have a little more of a “push” from the management team to make sure that targets are met within the desired time frames.

Also if a team member is on probation or a performance improvement plan following a negative review then they should have access to all the help and oversight they need to gain ground and reach their goals within the agreed time frames.

  • When your team is stepping into the unknown.

This is a classic one as when many teams take on new projects, dealing with new clients, or exercising new skill sets, this can really represent a challenging minefield for these team members. A little coaching and back up during these situations won’t hurt; that’s what managers are for.

  • When the specifics and the execution matter more than the outcome or result.

So you have a goal to meet in just a specific period of time and you need to exactly get it done the way it needs to be? Micromanagement could be the answer. Sometimes, a project or a team needs to have specifics and have a smooth execution to meet a goal. This is where micromanagement could work best.

Why do most people frown on Micromanagement?

Many employees don’t want to be micromanaged when they have experienced working under overbearing, in-your-face managers who think they have to take control to feel that they have the power. This is a serious management issue and this could lead to underperforming teams when they feel threatened. The actual management style should not always be blamed.

There are other poor management styles like when a manager is afraid to actively engage with the people and projects in their group (timidity), or when the manager treats everyone and everything the same way, in every situation (uniform style).

Another problem is when a manager is not able to understand his/her team members employees or the situation – the manager has little-to-no perception about what’s going on with the people that work for him/her or the situation they are in.

The need for micromanagement

Micromanagement, therefore, may be needed in the low-experience, low-performance, babysit type work environments and, to some extent, even in the high-experience, low-performance, environment as well. More importantly, the manager’s style needs to be different for every employee as they are all individuals. Even a manager who understands the basics of this need may miss that an experienced employee may need to be closely managed as a result of poor performance.

Managers need to be in tune with what is going on with every member on their team and adjust their style and effort accordingly.  Sometimes, micromanagement may be the right management tool for the job at hand. It should, of course, be used sparingly and it’s primary motivation should be to move the employee into an area that gives them more freedom to learn and excel.

Watch out for the next article on this topic, it really is fascinating.

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