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Definition[ edit ] Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines  micromanagement as "manage[ment] especially with excessive control or attention on details".
Often, this excessive obsession with the most minute of details causes a direct management failure in the ability to focus on the major details.
Micromanagement also frequently involves requests for unnecessary and overly detailed reports "reportomania". A micromanager tends to require constant and detailed performance feedback and to focus excessively on procedural trivia often in detail greater than they can actually process rather than on overall performance, quality and results.
This focus on "low-level" trivia often delays decisions, clouds overall goals and objectives, restricts the flow of information between employees, and guides the various aspects of a project in different and often opposed directions.
Many micromanagers accept such inefficiencies as less important than their retention of control or of the appearance of control. The most extreme cases of micromanagement constitute a management pathology closely related to workplace bullying and narcissistic behavior.
Micromanagement resembles addiction in that although most micromanagers are behaviorally dependent on control over others, both as a lifestyle and as a means of maintaining that lifestyle, many of them fail to recognize and acknowledge their dependence even when everyone around them observes it.
Renee Kowalski Although micromanagement is often easily recognized by employees, micromanagers rarely view themselves as such. In a form of denial similar to that found in addictive behavior, micromanagers will often rebut allegations of micromanagement by offering a competing characterization of their management style such as "structured", "organized", or " perfectionistic ".
Compared with mismanagement[ edit ] Micromanagement can be distinguished from the mere tendency of a manager to perform duties assigned to a subordinate.
When a manager can perform a worker's job more efficiently than the worker can, the result is merely suboptimal management: In micromanagement, the manager not only tells a subordinate what to do but dictates that the job be done a certain way regardless of whether that way is the most effective or efficient one.
Causes[ edit ] The most frequent motivations for micromanagement, such as detail-orientedness, emotional insecurityand doubts regarding employees' competenceare internal and related to the personality of the manager.
Since manager-employee relationships include a difference in power and often in age, workplace psychologists have used models based on transference theory to draw analogies between micromanagement relationships and dysfunctional parent-child relationships, e.
A frequent cause of such micromanagement patterns is a manager's perception or fear that they lack the competence and creative capability necessary for their position in the larger corporate structure.
In reaction to this fear, the manager creates a "fiefdom" within which the manager selects performance standards not on the basis of their relevance to the corporation's interest but rather on the basis of the ability of the manager's division to satisfy them.
Such motivations for micromanagement often intensify, at both the individual-manager and the organization-wide level, during times of economic hardship. In others, managers throughout an organization may engage in behavior that, while protective of their division's interests or their personal interests, harms the organization as a whole.
Micromanagement can also stem from a breakdown in the fundamentals of delegation. When a task or project is delegated in an unclear way, or where there is a lack of trust between the manager and the person doing the work, micromanagement naturally ensues.
Clearer delegation, with a well defined goal, clear vision of the constraints and dependencies, and effective oversight, can help prevent micromanagement. A micromanager may set unreachable standards later invoked as grounds for termination of those employees.
These standards may be either specific to certain employees or generally applicable but selectively enforced only against particular employees.
Alternatively, the micromanager may attempt by this or other means to create a stressful workplace in which the undesired employees no longer desire to participate. When such stress is severe or pervasive enough, its creation may be regarded as constructive discharge also known in the United Kingdom as "constructive dismissal" and in the United States as "constructive termination".
Regardless of a micromanager's motive for their conduct, its potential effects include: Creation of ex post resentment in both vertical manager-subordinate and horizontal subordinate-subordinate relationships Damage to ex ante trust in both vertical and horizontal relationships Interference with existing teamwork and inhibition of future teamwork in both vertical relationships e.
Because a pattern of micromanagement suggests to employees that a manager does not trust their work or judgment, it is a major factor in triggering employee disengagement, often to the point of promoting a dysfunctional and hostile work environment in which one or more managers, or even management generally, are labeled "control freaks.
The effects of this phenomenon are worse in situations where work is passed from one specialized employee to another. In such a situation, apathy among upstream employees affects not only their own productivity but also that of their downstream colleagues. Severe forms of micromanagement can completely eliminate trust, stifle opportunities for learning and development of interpersonal skills, and even provoke anti-social behavior.Executive Summary.
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