Micro|Managing: Where’s the Line?

Share this:

sxc - 967211_magnifying_glassMicromanagement. A term that no one competent in their role appreciates.  It is an ugly word.  If you’re a manager, micromanaging is a waste of your scarce personal resources.  If you’re an individual contributor, it leads to unwanted stress and resentment.  So, where’s the line between just simply managing and micro-managing?

I believe the crux of the issue comes down to whether you trust your people.  Or not.

Is the trust bidirectional?

If you trust your team do do their jobs, you’ll leave them alone to do them.  When you don’t trust your team(s), you feel compelled to keep checking their progress (or worse re/do their work) often with minute ‘corrections,’ that it becomes micromanaging.

To avoid micromanaging, intended or not, the trust needs to be bidirectional.  Team members need to feel comfortable coming to you.  There’s obviously a fine balance.  Sometimes it takes mentoring…  Subordinates, or better yet ‘teammates,’ need to understand that, if they don’t want to be micro-managed, they cannot come to you with trivial daily fare.

Looking across the teams I’ve worked with, it did seem to feel natural…some managers only needed/wanted guidance.  Yet others may have issues requiring direct intervention with their own subordinates.  The key is, whatever the situation, to be careful to provide only the guidance needed at that moment.  Note use of the word ‘guidance’ and not ‘doing.’

Without trust, without self-discipline, without the right people ‘on the bus,’ I think avoiding micromanaging is hard.  I just can’t emphasize trust enough.  Whether you’re working with a trainee or experienced hand.

(Photo credit: Ove Tøpfer)