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In business management, micromanagement is a management style where a manager closely observes or controls the work of his or her subordinates or employees. Micromanagement is generally used as a negative term to describe one who manages micro-brains, or those with little intelligence.[1][2]


[edit] Definition

Webster's Dictionary defines micromanage as: "to manage with great or excessive control, or attention to details".

Dictionary.com defines micromanage as: "to manage or control with excessive attention to minor details".[3]

Encarta online dictionary defines micromanage as: "attend to small details in management: to control a person or a situation by paying extreme attention to small details".[4]

Micromanagement was defined by Michael Scott on The Office (a satirical comedy) as "management on a more personal level," also known as 'microgement.'

[edit] Summary

In contrast to giving general instructions on smaller tasks while supervising larger concerns, the micromanager monitors and assesses every step and avoids delegation of decisions.[5] Micromanagement is often easily recognized by employees, but micromanagers rarely view themselves as such. Micromanagers will also refute such claims by citing their management style as structured or organizational; this is part of the denial process.

The notion of micromanagement can be extended to any social context where one person takes an inappropriate level of control and influence over the members of a group.[1] Continued micromanagement can result in disengagement. A disengaged employee puts in time but little else, and their apathy affects not only their own productivity but that of his/her colleagues. Because a consistent pattern of micromanagement tells an employee you don’t trust their work or judgment, it is a major factor in triggering disengagement.[6]

Extreme cases represent dangerous management pathology. The latter is characterized by an obsessive style of management and is closely related to workplace bullies, narcissists and other management pathologies. Micromanagers, like many addicts, are the last ones to recognize that their addiction is to controlling others.[1]

Micromanagement may arise from internal sources, such as concern for details, incompetence or insecurity. While the main drivers are internal and are related to the personality of the manager, they can also be partially attributed to external pressures such as organizational culture, severe time pressure, increased performance pressure, instability of manager position, etc. Severe forms of micromanagement may be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. In other cases of excessive micromanagement, the manager may feel that by implementing processes and procedures to execute orders and instructions, this enables the manager to feel and be able to demonstrate his or her usefulness and a valuable role in the overall business activity. This type of manager may actually lack the competencies and creative capabilities necessary for the job, and therefore 'creates' the environment by which to demonstrate self-worth.

Less frequently, perhaps, it can also be seen as a tactic used by managers to eliminate unwanted employees, either by creating standards employees cannot meet leading to termination, or by creating a stressful workplace causing the employee to leave. Regardless of the motivation the effect can create resentment, damage trust, and usually inhibits efficient teamwork.

Micromanagement can also be distinguished from the tendency of the manager to perform duties assigned to the subordinate. Benign forms arise when the manager can perform a worker's job with more efficiency. In severe forms, the manager does not have the required competencies of efficiency but still tries to dictate to the subordinate not only what to do, but how to do a particular task; he delegates responsibility, but not authority. It is also connected with requests for unnecessary and too detailed reports ("reportomania"). Typical examples include but are not limited to the area of performance feedback. A micromanager tends to require constant and detailed feedback and tends to be excessively focused on procedural trivia rather than on overall performance, quality and results. Frequently, a micromanager would accept much more detailed and trivial information from employees than he can actually process. At the same time, decisions may be delayed, overall goals and objectives are often not clear, information flow between employees may be restricted, and the direction of a project may be changed several times in opposed directions; the outcome of a project might be less important than retaining a feeling of control.

Micromanagers are usually irritated when a subordinate makes decisions without consulting them, even if the decisions are totally within the subordinate's level of authority.

Severe forms of micromanagement usually completely eliminate trust and can provoke anti-social behavior. They often rely on inducing fear in the employees to achieve more control and can severely affect self-esteem of employees as well as their mental and physical health. Because manager-employee relationships usually include a difference in power and age, psychological structures in micromanagement relationships can replicate issues in parent-child relationships, such as double binds, or having critical parents which inhibit development of adequate self-esteem[1]. Micromanagement makes it extremely difficult for employees to develop their skills and to grow and learn. In many cases it may be the best option for them to change their employment as soon as possible.

[edit] Literature

Harry Chambers: "My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide", Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2004), ISBN 978-1-57675-296-8

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d Chambers, Harry (2004). My Way or the Highway. Berrett Koehler Publishers, San Francisco. Retrieved on 20 June 2008
  2. ^ Small Business Resource Centre (2006). Also known as Paul.Micromanagement. Retrieved on 20 June 2008.
  3. ^ Dictionary.com (2008). Definition of micromanage. Retrieved on 21 June 2008.
  4. ^ Encarta Dictionary (2008). Definition of micromanage. Retrieved on 21 June 2008.
  5. ^ McConnell, Charles (2006). Micromanagement is Mismanagement. National Federation of Independent Business. Retrieved on 20 June 2008.
  6. ^ Bielaszka-DuVernay, Christina (2008). Micromanage at Your Peril. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. Retrieved on 23 June 2008.

[edit] External links

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