written by
Sean Thomas

Pros and Cons of Micromanagement in Projects

Project Management 4 min read

As a project manager, you may feel an endless urge within you to exert full control over the day-to-day activities of your team. In fact, this obsession may take the form of an endless compulsion over time and may force you into exercising excessive control over employees, something which they may not always welcome with open arms.

Micromanagement is a form of leadership that requires expert management of all work done by employees in your firm. Maintaining regular checks over your employees’ performances and not giving them the freedom to innovate are a few hallmarks of micromanagement, which managers would know all about.

A micromanager criticizes employees at every step of the project journey and does not give them the creative freedom and leverage required to do their work their own way. A micromanager will provide endless feedback to employees and want to be part of every step of the project journey. While the level and depth of the critique offered by micromanagers can worry, it is unified by the high frequency that it carries.

How to Identify a Micromanager

Before we delve deep into the pros and cons of micromanagement, let us first identify the different ways to see if you really are micromanaging or just taking an interest in what your employees have to do. Some characteristics displayed by a micromanager include:

· Personally step into the work they have assigned to their teams.

· Intentionally walk through the office from time to time to see how their employees are performing.

· Want access to all emails sent by their employees.

· Frequently requires updates on tasks and want access to what their employees are doing during work hours.

· Tend to focus on small, pedantic errors, rather than giving attention to the larger concerns that require your attention.

· Have strict rules in place for how employees should and shouldn’t work.

· Feel that their approval is necessary for all decisions.

· Are always unhappy with the work their employees have done and feel the need to berate them.

Pros of Micromanagement

While most leadership and management styles aren’t quite in favor of micromanagement, the technique doesn’t come without a few benefits of its own. Some of the benefits of micromanagement include:

· Thorough Control of Projects: Micromanagement does ensure thorough control of projects inside the organization. The management style helps organizations avoid tricky situations related to projects and can help manage every step of the journey.

· Team Accountability: Micromanagement can help project managers hold their team accountable where it is deemed necessary. Projects are often required to be completed on a strict deadline, which is why micromanagement is necessary to avoid delays and ensure timely completion. A micromanagement environment also allows managers to see which employee and team member is working more and others that aren’t. While successful projects may hide bottlenecks and save team members from public scrutiny, a micromanaging leader will hold everyone accountable and take steps accordingly.

· Better Control Over Complex Processes: There are certain processes within every project that require expert control and management. Such steps require micromanagement, where an experienced pro is continuously overseeing the progress of team members to find out areas where improvements can be made. This is where micromanagement ensures optimal results.

· Accurate Metrics: Micromanagement ensures accurate metrics. Since managers have their eyes on key processes, they can tell just how regular an employee is and how quick they are to communicate with team members and finish certain tasks. Managers who oversee each micro detail are well-versed with metrics and do not entirely rely on them, as they have experience of how each team member performs.

Cons of Micromanagement

As you might have guessed by now from the negative connotations we use around micromanagement, the leadership style does have numerous negatives associated with it. We will study these cons in this section.

· Lack of Trust in Employees: Micromanagement spurs from a lack of trust in your employees. Few things frustrate employees more than knowing the fact that their employer does not trust them as much as they would want them to. A micromanager’s behavior can often demotivate employees and lower their morale.

· Overdependence on Superior: The constant presence of managers overseeing the employees can eventually trigger an overdependence on superiors. As you start to control the actions of your employees, you will realize that they are over-dependent on you and do not have the autonomy or the responsibility to make decisions of their own.

· Not Suitable for Larger Organizations: Micromanagement isn’t suitable at all for project managers leading large projects in larger organizations. The style does work when you are leading smaller teams but does not work in the same manner when you are overseeing larger teams. Micromanaging a large team can eventually drain you of your energy levels.

· Disengaged Employees: Micromanagement in projects often leads to disengaged employees who never take actions of their own and don’t have much motivation coming from within. The overly abundant feedback kills all intrinsic motivation.

How to Avoid Micromanagement

There are certain steps you can take today to avoid micromanagement. These steps include:

· Set metrics and objectives for each employee. Do not work on aspects other than what is mentioned in the metric.

· Make sure you have firm deadlines for all key steps in the project journey, but also make sure that your employees have the autonomy and the power to take key decisions.

· Let employees know when they can and will receive feedback.

You can avoid becoming a micromanager by clearly stating project requirements to employees and then giving them the creative headspace to grow further over time.

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