Professional Pedantry | The Pros and Cons of Micro-Managing

micromanage

Micro-managing by its very definition is the act of exercising control of every part, no matter how small, of an enterprise. We have all probably come across the micro-manager in our working careers – and while the micro-manager has a pretty bad reputation by default, I’d like to take the time to examine both the pros and the cons of micro-managing in the hopes that we can all do a better job at work. Plus, I’d like to examine this to see if there’s a better way to manage people who can be tough to manage.

I have a personal story about micro-managing that I believe could be of interest. I was running a relatively new business from an office in the Philippines and had just made the decision to move to a virtual office through Servcorp (take a look at their virtual offices here www.servcorp.com.ph/en/virtual-offices/) because I believed it was the best financial decision at the time.

Once we had made the shift to working remotely it only took a month or so before the whole team had settled into our roles from around the world. Things were ticking along nicely – or so I thought. During our weekly Skype catch ups one of my team members wanted to speak to me about she felt I was handling her work. She pointed out that although she really appreciated my input, she felt that I was micro-managing her at times, and that it was making her feel like she couldn’t be trusted.

I was, of course, very glad that she had spoken up. My concern was that all of the team needed more input from me, not less – and so had acted accordingly. What the reality was that many of the team were enjoying their autonomy and workload and capacity had actually increased. Not to mention the fact that our work life balance was better than ever before. So the micro-managing from my end was being negatively received, and we immediately worked out a better way.

So there’s one side of the story – let’s take a look at the pros and cons of micro-management in the hopes that it helps you to make better choices with your staff.

Pros

  • You know that everything is being done exactly as you want it to be
  • You can manage staff with complex projects – especially if they’re lacking in experience
  • When working with new staff members it saves on training time as you can have people working straight away – just with plenty of management

Ok so they are the pros. Now too bad – right? But now let’s take a look at the cons.

Cons

  • People who are micro-managed are going to become resentful, less productive and less willing to engage with the team
  • Staff will avoid you and keep conversations to a minimum
  • Staff won’t feel trusted or respected

Pretty serious stuff, huh? As a business owner or manager you need to delegate responsibility. When you micro-manage people you fail to do this task. If you micro-manage people you don’t let others do their jobs – you try to do it for them.

You might need to resort to micro-management when your employees are performing really rudimentary tasks and are easily replaced with little training or spend – but really, when is this ever the case? You need to build a successful relationship built on trust and respect. Micro-management is a fast-track way to losing staff and having a problematic working environment. By all means, observe your staff and make constructive suggestions, but if you’re a control freak you need to reign it in lest you make some critical errors in judgement.