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Micromanaging in Business

Micromanagement is the destroyer of momentum.

Miles Anthony Smith

Are you involved in every action and decision of the people you supervise such that they are just an extension of you?

Or, do you let your employees have free rein, and if they fail, so what, it’s on them after all?

Micromanaging in Business

Some management consultants rail against the propensity of managers to over-manage as if to micromanage was the worst offense a supervisor can make.

            Which has the potential to produce the most catastrophic result—to micromanage or not to manage at all?


Micromanagement is the ultimate controlling management style. It is often demoralizing and counter-intuitive.  This desire for control—to make sure everything goes to plan—generally only creates more problems in the long-term.

Micromanagement is what it sounds like; it is someone trying to personally control and monitor everything in a team, situation, or place.

Traditionally, micromanaging causes the following:

  • Annoys employees
  • Is vulnerable to human error on both sides
  • Isn’t scalable at all
  • Makes managers lose sight of the big picture
  • Damages employee trust
  • Leads to burnout in managers and teams alike
  • Can cause employees to become dependent on micromanagement
  • Increases employee turnover rate

If you have not experienced micromanagement, just imagine what your reaction would be if your manager constantly asks for progress reports, watches your work like a hawk, and then criticizes every deviation from their preferred methods.

Benefits of Micromanaging

Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric wrote in a January 2016 article titled, “Why I Love Micromanaging and You Should Too,”

“Your help matters when you bring unique expertise to a situation, or you can expedite things by dint of your authority, or both. Your help matters when you have highly relevant experience that no one else on the team brings, and your presence sets an example of best practices – and prevents costly mistakes. Your help matters when it signals the organization’s priorities, as in, ‘Hey, we have high hopes for this new initiative. That’s why I’m in the weeds with it.’ Your help matters when you have a long relationship with, say, a customer or a potential partner, and your being at the table changes the game.”

The benefits of micromanaging are:

  • Gives greater control over operations
  • Allows accurate knowledge of metrics and minutia
  • Can help onboard employees (get them up to speed)
  • Makes complex and custom operations more reliable to execute
  • To micromanage is to have total control over operations.

The Bible

The Book of Nehemiah is a classic lesson in management.  Nehemiah, who was exiled to a foreign land, was compelled by God to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city’s walls that were first destroyed by the nation who conquered Nehemiah’s people and then further deteriorate by time and the people who remained behind.

Nehemiah was to return to Jerusalem.  He was to recruit the Jewish people to band together to restore some of the lost dignity to Jerusalem, the ancestral home to the Jews.

Few projects required more diligent management than Nehemiah’s.

Nehemiah 4:6 says.

So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

“…[F]or the people had a mind to work.” leads me to believe the Jews helping Nehemiah were convicted to help, to labor for the project’s successful completion, and to sacrifice themselves for the project.

Not all the people helping were skilled or committed to the same extent.  Some probably needed little oversight.  Some, however, undoubtedly required constant monitoring.  Nehemiah had to provide both—micromanage those who needed oversight, and let those who were experienced have full rein.

Project management’s goal is the successful completion of the project

Management style is only a means to that goal.  If some of your staff need micromanaging, your job is to micromanage.  On the other hand, those on your team who are skilled and committed, your job is to get out of their way.