Why Managers Love Micromanagement?
It’s hard watching someone make mistakes, especially if you already know how to avoid them. Staying silent while they slip up (or even do things in ways you would not) is harder. That doesn’t mean you have an excuse to micromanage them.
Micromanagement is the ultimate controlling management style. It’s demoralizing and counter-intuitive, as the desire for control to make sure everything goes to plan only creates more problems in the long-term. Do you like to micromanage or let people take ownership and show responsible behavior?
Micromanagers use this to cover their lack of leadership ability. They think that closely checking everyone's work will lead to a more efficient operation. It actually leads to a standstill as micromanagement takes a long time (everything has to go across the bosses desk) and provides no vision to the team.
How many first time managers are trained NOT to micromanage when they first start? Management is often the attempt to control a situation where there is very little. Micromanagement is very easy response to this lack of feeling of control. You need to be trained out of it.
In the beginning, despite all the assumptions we make about managers' intentions, I think many managers fall into micromanagement simply because they have never experienced anything else - they were micromanaged by their boss, and they've never been taught anything else. And that happens because organisations promote high performers, who are people who are good at detail and problem solving, so as managers they carry on doing the thing that got them rewarded and promoted. And when things get busy and stressful, people are under pressure and intervening and controlling just feels better - you are seen to be doing something.
I've lost count of the number of times I've had this conversation with people I am coaching. The way I've summarised it is that their job has shifted, from delivering results, to building the system that delivers results. We then nearly always end up with me teaching them how to have what I've labelled 'contracting conversations' with people - not controlling and micromanaging, but not pure coaching either. They are coaching style conversations where the leader still has an opinion but they hold it back and contribute only when it's needed.
18 months ago
I don't believe any but the most aloof manager love micromanagement. Some inexperienced managers default to this style as they fell they must have a handle on every aspect of the operation, but as they learn to trust and truly lead their teams they drop micromanagement for macromanagement. Managing to the larger picture, the long term success of the team and the company.
I have noticed in a few of your replies to other comments that you are holding to your assumption that micromanagement is a popular, wide spread and chosen management style. I disagree based on my experiences with leading personally, mentoring and growing new leaders and studying both management and workplace efficiency. Micromanagement is an early career misstep that happens fairly frequently but is abandoned once the individual learns there are better ways. Many people have experienced a senior manager that still micromanages, and this is unfortunate, but it is not the default style and it certainly isn't the most prevalent.
I don't think all managers love that but those who do - because they don't have to inspire anything to their team. Micromanaging is an example of setting a "No Trust" environment. If you do so - you are creating an unproductive system that will kill your performance eventually as a Manager.
Micromanagement is a weakness in a manager's ability to lead. It stems from insecurity and the inability to trust. There is only one pro - greater control. The cons are many - employee resentment, increased turnover, negative cultural impact, wasted time for managers and all the costs associated with these.
I don't agree that managers love to "micromanage". In my experience, some managers indulge in this practice because they are actually not very good at managing people (art and science). Others do it out of insecurity. I also believe it is quite common that this term is applied by someone unhappy with how they are being managed.
I have been a manager many times and do not care to micromanage, but I also learned it takes practice and trust to be truly effective at this artform.