Does anyone want to be micro managed? Typically, if you ask an employee the answer will be a resounding NO.
The concept of a “micro manager” has a lot of negative connotations. It is often associated with a view that your employer or manager is constantly looking over your shoulder, actively involved in every aspect of your work and doesn’t provide you with any freedom to manage decisions of your own.
Essentially, a micro manager is often thought of as someone who closely monitors and controls the work of his or her subordinates/team members.
That said, are there any times when being a micro manager is the correct course of action?
Interestingly enough, one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, Elon Musk, claims to not only be a micro manager, but a nano manager!
Before we dive into the times when being a micro manager may be warranted, let’s first recap the key traits a micro manager will usually possess.
Key Traits Of A Micro Manager
The following are some of the characteristics of a micro manager;
- Closely supervises his or her subordinates
- Wants to be actively involved in the day to day operations of the company and individual teams
- Can often set a list of tasks / jobs that all have the same level of prioritiy
- Is never fully satisfied with work delivered by staff and often feels that they can achieve a better result
- Constantly want to be updated on what an employee is doing and what they are working on
- Often makes corrections to work or projects themselves, sometimes without even informing the staff member who originally completed the work
- Can sometimes appear as though they do not trust their employees or their judgement
When Is Being A Micro Manager Beneficial
Despite the above there are situations where being a micro manager can be beneficial for an organisation. An effective leader will be able to ascertain when they need to take a more active role in the daily operations of the company and when to loosen their control. It’s a hard thing to balance, but it can be done.
One key time when being a micro manager can be beneficial is during a period of instability in a company. For example if the company has lost a major contract, is facing public backlash or is dealing with a legal challenge a all hands on deck mentality can help.
As the CEO or leader of that organisation staff will often look to you to take ownership of the issue and find a way forward. In this situation staff will often trade flexibility in their day to day role for clarity and guidance on what they are actually meant to do to fix the mess they find themselves in.
Embedding A New Team
On occasion a Manager may be tasked with creating or setting up a new team. If the Manager is coming from a position where they have significant industry experience, and their new staff members are relatively inexperienced, then taking a closer look at staff and the work they complete may be warranted.
In this situation the Manager should articulate that is not their standard way of managing staff and are only providing this much support on an interim basis as the team is new.
Inexperienced Team Member or Staff Member Who Is Not Performing Strongly
Sometimes you will have a situation where there is a new member of the team who is less experienced than others. An alternative case could be where a staff member is not performing strongly. You may not want to fire them, but instead are trying to support and train them up further as you still believe they could make a valuable contribution to the company.
In both of these instances it is completely reasonable to expect I higher level of oversight from your manager as an employee. You just need to find a way to slowly transition away from operating as a micro manager to your normal processes once they have the skills required to perform the role by themselves.
In addition to the team dynamics and the success or otherwise as a company there are a number of industries where a micro manager is basically a key requirement for the organisation. Examples include the finance, insurance and healthcare industries where there is often a high degree of oversight.
Governments and Financial Regulators have often put in place additional these checks and balances to ensure compliance and minimise risk to the public. As a result a Manager may be required to have a greater level of oversight in the day to day operations of the team, as well as sign off on work or correspondence.
Deadline Is At Risk Of Being Missed
This is a controversial one. Some people will argue that being a micro manager and taking control of a project when your team are behind schedule is critical. Others will argue that it is still best to stick with a more open and collaborative approach.
If you see a manager diving into the details when a project is behind schedule it is often because they recognise how critical the task/project is and can see that time and effort is being wasted by one or more team members. By “taking over” and micro managing the task/project the Manager can allocate resources as they see fit. This can also help reduce the time to make decisions as the Manager is essential the person who is making the yes/no call.
As you can see being a micro manager is often viewed as a negative trait. There are however situations were adopting this strategy may in fact be in the best interest of your team and company. Knowing when to get in and take a hands of approach, and when to step back and let your team take charge is often what separates a good manager from a great one. Consider how you operate in the workforce and ask yourself if you are being the most effective manager you could be in each situation.