Most people, at one point or another in their career, encounter a micromanager — the boss who must personally review every email, every communication, and makes every decision, often without the benefit of input from the employees he or she supervises. Micromanagement is the killer of innovation, creativity and often is counter productive to business goals. Further, most micromanagers end up alienating their employees and the turnover rate is often higher in that division, unit or company when compared to other management techniques.
Perhaps the biggest fault of micromanager is not delegating to build organizational sustainability. Developing the talent and skills of employees is among the most critical job functions of a manager. Company growth is often tied to employee development, creativity, and innovation. Management at companies like Google and 3M recognize this principle and encourage a free-flowing opportunities for growth. Micromanagement is the ultimate of mismanagement and hurts a company far more than it helps.
It’s difficult to imagine a time before computers – say in the medieval times, where scribes dutifully copied ancient works. Long before the printing press, few people had access to the ancient knowledge and almost no one had a Bible or Koran in their home. We have so much information at our disposal today, everyone becomes a specialist. Whether your specialty is management, marketing, accounting, finance, education, operations, production, or any other noble endeavor, it is critical that you remain current in the practices of your field. This is not easy when so many things compete for our attention – especially our families, the practice of our faith, numerous household and yard chores – not to mention the occasional opportunity to catch a football game or a soap opera. Our most important responsibility in this lifetime is to make ourselves the best that we can be, gaining insights into the reasons and purposes of our lives.
One of the things not touched on in many business program is the inevitable fact that organizations have both internal politics and conflict. Many people avoid politics, but sooner or later, conflict will happen and must be confronted. Avoiding conflict leads to stress and is, at best, a poor strategy. Like stress, a proper amount of conflict often promotes problem solving and creativity in the organization. Likewise, too much conflict, like micromanagement, leads to discomfort and ultimately to dysfunction. I have observed many organizations and great managers understand the some conflict is useful, but step in when conflict creates disunity or dysfunction with in a group of co-workers.
The difference is that great companies attract the best talent the firm can afford, paying them as much as possible (and what is prudent), marshaling the resources necessary for them to perform their jobs, and then having the sense to get out of the way and let them perform to the best of their ability is an essential management “truth”. Remember that management’s entire purpose for existing is to handle exceptions. So while managing by objectives (MBO) is important, managing by exception (MBE) is equally important.
Too much management creates distrust and alienates workers. A manager who micromanages does him or herself a disfavor as well as the associate, team member, or employee. Micromanagement ultimately leads to unhealthy conflict. Most micromanagers basically distrust people (some even hate people) and think that they can do better than their employees. The span of control alone belies this philosophy and violates just about every management theory about motivating people.
So if you micromanage, do not be surprised if you are not respected, shunned by colleagues and co-workers, are outright disliked by line employees, and experience a lot of conflict in your organization.
Winston Churchill once stated “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” We choose are circumstance and our reactions toward what happens to us is largely a matter of our collective choices. We can accept where we are now or move boldly forward. If you do not like where you are, only you can make that change. Others can help by providing guidance, advice, and assistance, but only you can change your attitude.
Is anyone else concerned about “our” government purchasing about a billion rounds of hollow point ammunition? (Across agencies like Homeland Security, National Weather Service, Social Security Administration)? Hollow points are designed to inflict maximum human tissue and organ damage. These rounds are never used for target practice because they are so much more expensive than full metal jack rounds. The only advantage od hollow point rounds in urban combat is that these rounds are less likely to penetrate walls and strike non-combatants.
I noted with sorrow the recent passing of Stephen Covey on July 16, 2012. His contributions will continue beyond his life as will hisbooks and the Covey Leadership Center (now a part of Franklin Covey). He was such a poasitive in so many people’s lives. He will be missed.