Micromanagement: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

micromanagementMicromanaging has a bit of a mixed reputation. It’s hardly an adored practice by those who employ it since it can be so tedious and frustrating while trying to juggle your own priorities. Even when you own the business, you can’t make everyone’s jobs within it your priority.

You’ve got to recognize your organization and where you fit in it as well as everyone you have working for you. I’ve mentioned Steve Jobs a few times on my blog because I don’t believe that his management style was appropriate but it obviously built a successful business, right?

You’ve got to be careful about saying one shoe fits all…because it simply doesn’t.

When Micromanagement Is Necessary

It really comes down to the type of business. If you’re in a business where safety is everything and it needs to be perfect and predictable every single time…then the level of micro managing is probably a little higher than usual. If it’s a matter of life or death, you have to be sure it’s right. There is no flexibility there.

To put it simply, the level of training for ‘life or death’ situations is greater than the instruction involved in preparing a burger.

It doesn’t matter that McDonalds has high turnover because they have systems in place that plan, teach and execute those systems. As long as people follow the systems, everything is fine.

Knowing When To Back Off

The opposite end of the spectrum would be more of an artistic business that requires a more hands-off approach to management. In an artistic business, the lack of micromanagement is going to be more obvious as you need to let your employees think outside and beyond the box.

If you continually stomp on your employees’ artistic flare, you could potentially work against the skills you hired them for.

A good example would be a web design company. Certain things need to be done right but when it comes to the artistic nature of this type of business, it’s important that employees have the flexibility to be creative.

Another good example would be an architectural firm. There is the design aspect and then there is construction. You have to give your skilled architectural professions lots of leeway and freedom but in the end their plan inevitably must meet code.

At this point you need to determine how much flexibility you have in the situation. It has to meet the code; otherwise it can’t be built so it requires a little more control through that particular process.

In the case of an architect, it occurs within a single employee. That single employee is required to do the artistic nature and then needs to get into the details. In this case, you’ve got to change the level of management during the project itself. That’s the flexibility that you need to build in at the beginning when you’re working within companies and projects.

In the case of senior positions, I think the odds are high that you want those people to be capable of operating without the need for micromanagement. The board of a company doesn’t want to hire a CEO just to watch their every move. You hired the CEO to run the organization, let them run it.

Drawing Lines In The Sand

If you want to run a successful company, you’ll need to get good at knowing when it’s okay to draw those lines in the sand and when it’s time to let them wash away with the tide.

There are always going to be responsibilities and positions in the company that you need to have that precision and that “this is the job and follow it, so do it” attitude. The real key is knowing when to let go. That’s tough!

What is your experience with micromanagement? Let me know in the comments below.


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