Accused of Micromanagement…

I was recently accused of being a micromanager by a staff who found my requests for status and directions too granular for his liking.  Hmmm, I had to ask myself the question of whether or not I was a micromanager and whether or not it was justified.

I am fully aware that any excessive request for project status updates would result in management overhead.  Usually, the overhead becomes more expensive when unresolved issues pile up and no management actions are taken to expedite the issue resolution.  All in all, a delicate balance must be struck between detailing of each task and the effort required to update each task.  However, all this is in the context of a project.  How about the management staff members?

As a staff member in a team, providing a status on weekly activities should be part of the job description, especially in the context of a consulting projects.  I did so when I was an individual contributor.  For me, the objective of providing status was to ensure that I was (1) making progress in a desired pace and (2) setting the proper priorities for my own time.  If I were ever questioned by the amount of effort and time I was devoting to a certain task, then such status report would effectively re-align my priorities. It was a two way street for me as a contributor.

Circling this issue back to myself, I believe I was accused of micromanaging because I expected updates more frequently than what the staff is used to or will to provide. This issue also touches upon the level of underlying trust between the staff and the manager that is built over time.

Let me be perfectly honest — I micromanage because I trust the accuracy of the information that I get.  I am uncertain of the staff’s ability to proactively keep me informed if and when certain key decisions need to be made. I have been let down by previous events that led to missed deadlines.  Hence, I found it difficult not to micromanage.  What I find surprising is how defensive the staff member behaved…when in fact his/her actions is what led to the distrust. 

Micromanaging a staff member is not fun for anyone.  But, at least, I am helping myself with more information than is willingly disclosed to me. I will continue to micromanage until I feel that the relationship with the staff has reached a level point where an appropriate level of trust is in place…otherwise, it will be micromanaging hell for all.


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