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Does Micromanagement Have a Place in the Office?

By Mckenna Clarke, blog writer at TOP CFOS

In general, people tend to associate micromanagement with a negative workplace environment. While this can be true, a recent study shows that there may be benefits to micromanaging in certain situations.

I recently read this article and it got me thinking: Is there a place for micromanagement in the workplace?

In essence, micromanaging is the practice of evaluating people or processes closely. Managers must know when to use micromanagement effectively and when to get out of the way

When micromanagement is used inappropriately at the wrong time, it can break the trust between an employee and manager. Micromanaging, when used well, can lead to greater productivity and trust in the workplace.

When it doesn’t work

According to the article, “Micromanagement may give managers an illusion of effectiveness, especially if there are early successes when they micromanage tasks or functions that could be done by subordinates. In the long term, the team’s ability to innovate and create new value-added services is hindered—and it falls solely to the manager to be creative. Empowering the staff is a bold approach for any manager to take, but success ultimately depends on managers’ ability to surround themselves with a strong team.”

It eventually produces employees who feel frustrated and incompetent. Since they don’t feel the trust of the manager, they are less likely to share innovative ideas and go above and beyond. This hurts not only the culture of the business but the success of the company.

When it can work

Business management experts have noted that there are situations when micromanaging is appropriate:

“(1) the strategy of the organization is changing, (2) a new endeavor is starting, (3) there is a new leader, a new employee, or a new division or unit, (4) an employee or leader fails to execute on an initiative, and, as a result, the program lingers, (5) serious complaints or errors have occurred, and (6) the division or department has poor result.”

Managers should make sure to communicate with employees why they are are taking a very hands-on approach in these situations. Letting employees know that you are just there to help them with the team’s goals will reassure them that the micromanaging is temporary.

Self Checks

Experts recommend that “Managers set clear goals and ensure that individuals have the tools necessary to succeed in their initiatives. Managers should conduct frequent self-checks in order to avoid inappropriate micromanagement.”

The ASHP created this survey for managers to self-assess their micromanagement practices. If you want to see how you measure up in your managing, take the survey. It will give you some ideas of areas where you can improve.

The bottom line

“While micromanagement is sometimes necessary, doing it for too long can be detrimental, and managers should be attuned to the need to reevaluate their role and back off at the appropriate time.” Used sparingly, this practice can be helpful, but like most good things, less is more.