Micromanage at Your Peril: Another perspective

This article by Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay published in Feb 2008 is quite interesting. The article was quoted recently by a leadership guru; Marshall Goldsmith in 18 Feb 2010 article titled “The Mark of a Great Leader“. Though Goldsmith main focus on his article was Self-Awareness as a leadership skill, he contended that micromanagement is one of the first things leaders should notice about their leadership style, and simply, stop doing it!

For Christina, though she contended that micromanagement is a ‘natural tendency’, and ‘might reveal opportunities for improvement’, she concluded that the typical result of such out-dated style is ’employees’ disengagement’. She presented wonderful cases and demonstrated solid numbers to expose the cost and perils of micromanagement. Please go thru her article.

The other perspective I wish to add here is that I personally noticed that micro-managers bring other perils to their organizational that are more catastrophic than employees’ disengagement. Micro-managers, I argue, are narrow-minded, short-visioned, slow and live in absolute bureaucracy. They adore decision making and even steal it. They cannot imagine decisions being made without them making the ‘go go go’ or scrutinizing every nitty-gritty detail. If managers; and in this context, I refer to CxO’s, VP and senior managers, do leave their duties as strategic planning, resourcing and overall responsibility for their firms sustainability and well-being, and delve deep into tactical and operational responsibilities; who else is assumed to look into the big picture! I simply do not comprehend such management style!

Denial of risks and perils was the third phase in ‘How the Mighty Fall’ process envisioned by Jim Collins most recent book. Micro-managers are undoubtedly ignorant of what risks and perils their management style would carry. It’s arrogance, ignorance, irresponsibility and basically; hubris. Though, Collins referred to hubris in his discussion on falling companies from organizational perspective, nonetheless, I feel that micro-managers do live in hubris arrogantly-framed life in which they think they are super-heroes, and sadly more, the ‘Dieu’ or Supreme being of thinking and decision making!.

Here is a snapshot of Christina article, and you can read it in full at HBR:

“All managers want their employees to be more productive–to collaborate more energetically, to work more efficiently. But in pursuit of productivity, many fine managers have traipsed down some perilous paths.

Yes, we’re talking about micromanagement. It’s a natural tendency, even among seasoned managers, to think close examination of a direct report’s work will improve it. Sure, such scrutiny might reveal opportunities for improvement: processes she could streamline, shortcuts she’s taking that undermine quality, shortcuts she’s not taking that she should.

But tread this path too often, and any gains realized from process improvements will be offset by the deleterious effects of disengagement.

What is disengagement? Fundamentally, it is a state of distance from one’s work. A disengaged employee puts in time but little else, and his apathy affects not only his own productivity but that of his colleagues. Because a consistent pattern of micromanagement tells an employee you don’t trust his work or his judgment, it is a major factor in triggering disengagement.

And disengagement is costly.

According to the book 12: The Elements of Great Managing (Gallup Press, 2006), absenteeism caused by disengagement costs a typical 10,000-person company $600,000 a year in salary for days where no work was performed, and that “disengagement-driven turnover costs most sizable businesses millions every year.” By contrast, engaged employees are more likely to show up to work, to stay with a firm longer, and to be more productive while they’re on the job. Gallup research cited in the book finds that highly engaged teams average 18% higher productivity and 12% greater profitability than the least engaged teams.”

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