Micro-Manager: “a boss or manager who gives excessive supervision to employees”
You know those moments you freak out over things on the internet, that scary new disease (that’s pretty much a scam) whose symptoms you share, or you read ‘Ten Signs you’re a bad friend’ and you tick off eight boxes and you feel the need to ask your friends if they hate you; pretty much anything negative you read that hits the “omg that’s so me!” panic button in your brain. Well, I had one of those moments this week in my Introduction to Management lecture.
Here’s some background: We were asked to offer up ideas on what makes a good manager. Having passed my management evaluation at my part-time job only days before, I was naturally intrigued by the conversation. One classmate of mine said a good manager is someone who doesn’t micromanage. I had never heard the term before so I was engaged by the discussion that followed. It’s the idea of a perfectionist manager who effectively breaths down the neck of, and stalks, an employee whilst they work. Micromanaging is generally seen as a pretty bad thing. It does make sense, I suppose. If a manager never gives their employee room, how is that employee supposed to feel trusted? Valued? Capable?
Is this me? I found the above list here and I can relate to several of the points. I guess I don’t give my staff as much space as I could, but it just reassures me, when I watch them, that they’re doing things right and I don’t need to worry. Until this moment I never really stopped to consider that this could be a bad thing. A friend whom I sit with in that class is also a manager at my workplace, and he also was slightly unnerved that we might fit into that idea of the micro-manager.
Being at the beginning of my management journey, I’ve been trying really hard to form positive and trusting relationships with the team I have to lead and trying to make my shifts as close as possible to perfect – but am I overdoing it? It’s my job to oversee that everything in the store is done:
(b) Accurately; and
(c) According to procedure;
and so in that sense (particularly being so new to the job) I do feel that the best way to do that is to observe my team very closely, ask them questions, remind them of procedures, even if they’ve been doing their job well for years. I remind them of things they know, I triple-check their work, I watch them in person and on the security cameras. It probably isn’t necessary for me to tell you that not all the people I work with appreciate this.
But you know what? Tough. I work in an environment which presents me with many opportunities for issues in workplace health and safety and food safety and as a manager, IT IS MY JOB TO ENSURE THE HEALTH OF MY STAFF AND CUSTOMERS IS NOT COMPROMISED. *Whoa Claire, calm down*. (Breaths). Okay.
Seriously though, I understand it can be frustrating to have someone breathing down your shoulder as you work and feeling not trusted, and I know that negativity is not desirable in the workplace, but at the end of the day, I work with kids as young as 14 and 15, raw products, dairy, hot oil . . . maybe there isn’t such a thing as being too careful.
Even though my first instinct when I heard the term ‘micro manager’ was the whole ‘OMG that can’t be me’, maybe it’s not really a bad thing. There are all sorts of negative connotations associated with micro-managing; this is mainly related to employee psyche. The feelings of mistrust, intimidation and disdain this can cause within a workplace can lead to a high turnover and decreased productivity. However, if the concept of micro management is adopted carefully, its characteristic communication and general interest in what staff members produce could actually benefit a workplace. At least that is what I tell myself :p.
David Goldsmith argues that the question we need to ask is not whether we should micro manage, but how;
“Micromanagement done right is an incredible way to boost productivity, empower people, and reach outcomes successfully” (source)
If used correctly, micromanagement can actually be a good thing – which makes me feel significantly better. I think if we change the perception of it there would be an instant improvement in workplace culture and productivity. Yes, I’m a bit of a micromanager, but it’s not because I don’t have faith in, or trust, my staff members; it’s more because two sets of eyes are better than one, and I feel that if I show interest in their outputs they’ll feel motivated to produce me high-quality product. It sounds corny and stupid, but I care – and that’s really all there is to it 🙂
Here’s a quiz titled Are you a Micromanager, according to which I am indeed a micro-manager. Watch out world! 😛
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts & experiences on this topic!