One of the hats I wear in my organisation is technology consultant. This role gives me the opportunity to interact with many managers and their subordinates across different organisations and in different geographies. Culture is one of the topics I invariably tend to observe and correlate during these consultancy sessions are the culture and the actions/decisions managers take. So I often make it a point to eat at client-place canteen. A place for organisation politics, whispers and rumours.
During one such consulting/canteen visits, I came across a senior manager, who was considered as an epitome of micromanagement by his team. He had just moved into that role (horizontal move) and had already earned a name for his micromanagement style in this team. During my interactions, I found him to be a very sensible person. He was very knowledgeable, had a strong business acumen, empathetic and was very logical in his thinking. He talked about his achievement in his past role, about how he and his team had helped build one of the most successful product for the company. In fact, his boss was considering a promotion in the next cycle.
Now the question that came to my mind is how can micromanager be successful? By all logic of today’s leadership principles, even his old team should not have delivered. He should be ideally be shunned. But yet he is being considered for a promotion and has helped build a very successful product. In fact, he had consistently performed in all his roles in the past. How is this possible?
I got an entirely different narrative of this manager from his old subordinates. All of them had high regards for him, and almost everybody attributed his hard work for the success of the products. They even wanted him back as their manager.
So what happened to this manager in his new team? what makes a manager to Micromanage things? Is micromanagement a feature, which is inseparable from the character of the person or its a state of lack of trust about his subordinates, which takes time to bridge. In the real world you don’t pick and choose your team, most probably, you inherit a team. Most often, you also come with pressure to deliver within the short period. Maybe lack of trust made this other successful manager a micromanager? or is it a state of transition into the new environment?
Is micromanagement to be entirely shunned? Or is it just another tool in leaders arsenal to be wisely used in right occasions? In my view, micromanagement is a double-edged sword. A sword, which is can be used once in a while, I would say micromanagement is ok to that extent. But if overused, it will be a disaster. So again in my view, shunning micromanagement “blindly” as an outcast in the business world is very impractical. It has its place in the leadership toolkit. A place one should rarely go.
Micromanagement is a double edged sword, if not used appropriately, it will be a disaster, faster and bigger than one would think. So use that tool only if its absoultely necesarry.