Micro-Management usually is discussed in a harsh light and gets a bad rap, but are there benefits to micro-management and is there a time and a place for both styles?
Micro-management and macro-management are two distinct styles that can have a significant impact on organizational performance and employee morale. While micro-management is often associated with control and detail-oriented focus, macro-management is focused on empowering and inspiring teams to achieve their goals. In this blog, we will explore the key differences between micro-management and macro-management, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
Most people have, or will, experience micro-management at some point in their careers. I have experienced it at multiple levels from entry roles to mid-management through to executive level when even company boards can over-meddle in micro-operational topics. I had one manager who was so obsessed with having control that they had the entire team investing almost a quarter of our time logging and reporting on what we were doing. Micro-management is a management style that involves closely supervising and monitoring the work of employees. Micro-managers tend to be very detail-oriented and focused on controlling every aspect of their team's work. They often take a hands-on approach, frequently checking in with employees, and providing constant feedback and direction but are there advantages to this style?
Advantages of Micro-management:
Ensuring quality: Micromanagers often have a keen eye for detail, and they can help ensure that the work being done is of high quality.
Control: Micromanagers have a strong sense of control over their team's work, which can help them feel more confident about meeting deadlines and achieving goals.
Efficiency: By keeping a close eye on their team's work, micromanagers can help identify and address issues quickly, which can lead to increased efficiency.
There are times when micromanaging can be advantageous for a leader. For example, micro-management can be a good temperature gauge to use in short bursts to understand where inefficiencies may have crept into an operation. Similarly, it can be good for a new leader to take a temperature check and understand the department/team they have inherited. It should be communicated extremely well and be cautious not to set the scene for the future relationship - leaders should consider that first impressions count and establishing a relationship before deploying a short-term strategy like this could be critical for team harmonization.
Micro-management also has a place in disciplinary situations where trust has been fractured by an employee. Leaders should consider that trust is a two-way street and micro-management has its risks long term. Rebuilding trust is equally important in a disciplinary situation.
Now that we've considered the advantages, let's take a look at the disadvantages.
Disadvantages of Micro-management:
Lack of trust: Micromanagers may be perceived as not trusting their team members to do their job correctly, which can lead to resentment and lower employee morale.
Stifling creativity: Micromanagers may be so focused on controlling every aspect of their team's work that they stifle their creativity and prevent them from taking risks or trying new things.
Time-consuming: Micro-management can be very time-consuming, as the manager must spend a significant amount of time supervising and providing feedback.
While micro-management has its place in certain circumstances, it also comes with its own set of challenges and risks especially if the trait is permanent. Micro-management can lead to high turnover and ultimately cost a business a lot of money in recruitment and retraining as well as stagnating productivity as in the case of my manager described above. It is not a strategy that produces high performance over a sustained period.
Now let's take a look at Macro-management in leadership.
Macro-management, on the other hand, is a leadership style that focuses on empowering and inspiring teams to achieve their goals. Macro-managers provide guidance and direction, but they also encourage their team members to take ownership of their work and to be creative and innovative.
Advantages of Macro-management:
Trust: Macromanagers trust their team members to do their job correctly and to make decisions on their own. This can lead to higher employee morale and better relationships between team members and their managers.
Creativity: Macromanagers encourage creativity and innovation, which can lead to new ideas and better ways of doing things.
Development: Macromanagers focus on developing their team members' skills and abilities, which can lead to better performance and increased job satisfaction.
Macro-management works best when the foundation of two-way trust exists within the team. This is why followership, is equally important as leadership in a high-performing team and is sometimes overlooked. Leaders that adopt macro-management styles with teams where two-way trust exists with a clear, well understood vision, will always perform at a higher level.
Disadvantages of Macro-management:
Lack of control: Macromanagers may not have as much control over their team's work as micromanagers, which can make them feel less confident about meeting deadlines and achieving goals.
Quality: Macromanagers may not always have the same level of attention to detail as micromanagers, which can lead to lower-quality work.
Time-consuming: Macro-management can be time-consuming, as leaders must spend time developing their team members and providing guidance and direction.
Leaders still have a responsibility to know what is happening at the coalface. A great example of this is Laxman Narasimhan, the incoming CEO of Starbucks who, before formally taking the role, spent 40 hours in a green apron becoming a licensed barista. He said he would continue being a barista in different locations for four hours a month and he expected his senior leadership team to do the same. Narasimhan's course of action comes at a time that Starbucks owned sites are voting to unionise so it's relevant and timely to the business but it's also a way to maintain a relationship to the frontline and balance being able to run a large corporation at the same time. An action that will earn respect for a new leader.
Disadvantages of Macro-management:
In conclusion, micro-management and macro-management are two distinct styles of leadership that can have a significant impact on organizational performance and employee morale. While micromanagement can be effective in ensuring quality, control, and efficiency, it can also lead to a lack of trust, stifling creativity, and be time-consuming.
Macro-management, on the other hand, can be effective in building trust, encouraging creativity and innovation, and developing team members' skills, but it may also result in a lack of control over the team's work and may be time-consuming. Macro-management relies on two-way trust - the foundation of leadership and followership. It also relies on a well-communicated mission with a set of values and clear goals. Without that foundation clearly articulated, demonstrated and fully embedded by leadership, decision-making will be fragmented at best and performance subpar.
Ultimately, the best approach to leadership will depend on the situation and the team being led. While some situations may call for a more hands-on approach, others may require a more collaborative and empowering style. A good leader will be able to adapt their style to the situation and to the needs of their team.
At the Grind Academy, we host workshops to form or reinforce the foundation. Our range of workshops can be customized to meet your teams current needs. Reach out via our website or call us to learn more.
If you have an experience of good or bad micro or macro-management, please feel free to share with us in the comments.