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Micromanagement: How To Avoid It

by Jannet Sparts on October 19, 2012

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Bill supervising Kris Bill supervising Kris (Photo credit: Duane Storey)

Nowadays the word ‘micromanagement’ is more often used in a negative context and, that’s evident, nobody likes being constantly ‘managed’. However, most people have to work under the conditions of micromanagement.

Micromanagement happens when, for example, the manager follows every written and unwritten rule controlling their employees; he tracks every detail or task of the project and one can have the impression that nothing is possible to perform without him at all. It all leads to a rather depressing atmosphere, low productivity, the morale decline, and, as a result, high employee turnover.

But if you like your job and what you are doing, the main questions to be answered are ‘What can be done to improve the situation? How to avoid micromanagement?’

We are not going to talk about some specific type of work where it’s impossible to do without such total control because such control is connected with the threat to life, or when the mistakes can cause big money. We’ll speak about some spheres like software development, or project management where people work in teams and have to be supervised.

Why don’t people like micromanagement?

  1. Micromanagement doesn’t leave any chance for creativity
  2. Micromanagement can lead to stress because a person is under constant pressure
  3. Micromanagement requires much more time since every step has to be agreed and approved
  4. Micromanagement doesn’t give a chance to develop professionally

What can be done with it?

Look at yourself critically. It’s not easy. The reason may be not only in your manager. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the manager act like this only with you?
  • Have you given any cause for the manager not to trust you?
  • Have you ever missed important deadlines?
  • How often can’t you concentrate on work?
  • Are you always able to communicate your ideas to others?
  • Do you always realize the importance of the letters sent by the manager?

These are difficult questions and sometimes they are difficult to answer objectively. If you have trust relations with your colleagues, ask them to help you answer these questions.

If everything is Ok with these questions and answers, there’s something you can do to improve the situation:

  • Help your manager delegate tasks more effectively: ask for all the necessary information in advance and set some intermediary deadlines for yourself when you will report to him.
  • Take the initiative and start some project or task that you are sure to complete successfully. Do it for free. It will show your skills and will increase your manager’s trust in you.
  • Make sure you report about the progress of your work to the manager regularly. He may ask for some information since he hasn’t heard for a long time about the course of the project.
  • Remember that the manager is a living person and can also make mistakes. Help him get rid of the habits of micromanagement.
  • Help the manager see that there’s a better way of interacting with you than micromanagement.

Very often managers lean over micromanagement because of despair: inability to delegate tasks, inability to see the whole picture when no employee takes initiative. If both sides realize what impedes their work, they will be able to solve this problem together, but this is a rarity though not a singularity. Thus, it’s your choice.

What are your opinions on micromanagement? How do you avoid it in your company? Which software do you use to control the project (JIRA, Comindware, Basecamp, etc.)?

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This post was written by

Jannet Sparts – who has written posts on Tech Genial.
Hi, my name’s Jannet Sparts and I’m working as an editor of Online Issues. I write for several blogs sharing my experience and observations. I have worked as a project manager in several companies. So I have tried different PM tools, collaboration programs, including tracker and task management software solutions. I use Comindware Tracker for my project management processes.

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