Could it be that micromanagement is an overused term? A misnomer for a multitude of other management/communication issues?
True micromanagement is explicitly giving a certain level of authority and then implicitly taking it back by repeatedly overriding decisions, requiring unusually frequent updates or carpet-bombing with directives sugar coated as suggestions. This can occur when a manager is particularly anxious about the outcome of a project or has reservations about the level of ability of the person to which they have delegated. The manager’s concerns may be legitimate (you fight with the army you have, not the army you wish you had) or to various degrees, the manager themselves might even be insecure, personally or professionally, or suffer as an individual from an overall anxiety syndrome. Many things are overdetermined i.e. they are complex with many factors contributing to the situation.
No doubt my belief system is influenced by my perspective as an entrepreneur/owner/founder, however for every “bad” case of micromanagement, I see many more where a manager is trying to help, trying to teach, coach and develop; attempting to guide and rescue someone they see as floundering or in need of guidance.
Managers frequently get involved when they see subordinates:
– Not asking for help soon enough, perhaps out of fear of appearing not up to the challenge or maybe because they do not realize that they’ve wandered off course.
– Choosing a suboptimal solution because going further taxes their ability or is beyond their comfort zone or level of experience or vision.
– Not wanting to relinquish control by accepting feedback from others (Ironically, a subordinate labeling a manager a controlling micromanager may also be just as controlling, unwilling to accept input from others.)
Properly done, delegation is not a single action but rather an on-going process of communication and feedback; the best managers provide real-time feedback to help their direct reports learn, grow, and flourish. This is especially true when a manager is attempting to challenge and grow a subordinate by giving them responsibility for a project at the far edge of their skill set.
“When you delegate tasks, you create followers. When you delegate authority, you create leaders.” – Craig Groeschel
“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” – John C. Maxwell
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” – Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President
As always I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier