MicroManagement Defined

I’m getting a lot of mileage from a speaker we heard a week or so ago. He said to finish this question:

MicroManagement is…

I said, “Self defeating”. He said, “Absolutely essential.”

I realized quickly that he was defining micromanagement in a different way than most business professionals define it – but that his misinterpretation is a common one, especially among people who do not understand business concepts well.

They confuse staying informed and following up, with micromanagement. They are not the same thing.

He was defining it as a business owner having their finger on the pulse of what was happening – knowing what was being spent, knowing who was doing what, keeping up on the status of projects. That ISN’T micromanagement. Only the irresponsible parasites in business think it is! (Not that he is an irresponsible parasite, but perhaps he is around too many of them!)

Micromanagment is when you TAKE the responsibility from someone, and when you step on their toes after you’ve given them a job. It is when you interfere with their ability to actually DO their job. For example, a nearby Chamber wants control over every single decision – even though they have bylaws which provide for the authority for certain decisions to be made by other people. They do not trust the people they hire though, and they come in and countermand decisions, require that everything be presented at board meetings (which always end up too crowded with too much on the agenda). They could delegate, receive a report, and move on with simpler choices, but they don’t. This is because the people involved do not understand how to manage well.

A good manager, or business owner, has to know what is going on. They also have to be able to delegate tasks, then follow up with a check to see if they’ve been done, or to receive a report and see if the report matches the expectations. You cannot trust others to do what you ask them to do if you do NOT follow up. But if you do follow up, you have a chance to check in the middle to see if progress is being made, then to review the results, and act accordingly. That ISN’T micromanagement. That is necessary management – and it is one reason larger corporations have a problem – there can be just too much distance between the bottom and the top, and too many layers of people to go through, and it breaks down too easily.

But for bitty businesses, sometimes the hardest transition to make is the first one – going from being responsible only for, and to, yourself, to having to supervise others. It is easy to tip too far in one direction or the other. To either not LET other people do their job, or to ignore them when you oughta be paying attention.

Micromanagement isn’t necessary. Smart management is.

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