Micromanagement

In business management, micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes and/or controls the work of his/her subordinates or employees.

Micromanagement is generally considered to have a negative connotation, mainly due to the fact that it shows a lack of freedom in the workplace.[1][2]

Definition

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines[3] micromanagement as "manage[ment] especially with excessive control or attention on details". Dictionary.com defines micromanagement as "manage[ment] or control with excessive attention to minor details".[4] The online dictionary Encarta defined micromanagement as "atten[tion] to small details in management: control [of] a person or a situation by paying extreme attention to small details".[5]

The notion of micromanagement can extend to any social context where one person takes a bully approach in the level of control and influence over the members of a group. Often, this excessive obsession with the most minute of details causes a direct management failure in the ability to focus on the major details.[1]

Symptoms

Rather than giving general instructions on smaller tasks and then devoting time to supervising larger concerns, the micromanager monitors and assesses every step of a business process and avoids delegation of decisions.[6] Micromanagers are usually irritated when a subordinate makes decisions without consulting them, even if the decisions are within the subordinate's level of authority.

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.

It is common for micromanagers, especially those who exhibit narcissistic tendencies and/or micromanage deliberately and for strategic reasons, to delegate work to subordinates and then micromanage those subordinates' performance, enabling the micromanagers in question to both take credit for positive results and shift the blame for negative results to their subordinates.[7] These micromanagers thereby delegate accountability for failure but not the authority to take alternative actions that would have led to success or at least to the mitigation of that failure.

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.[1] Some severe cases of micromanagement arise from other underlying mental health conditions such as obsessive–compulsive personality disorder. (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

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: although the company suffers lost opportunities because such managers would serve the company even better by doing their own job (see comparative advantage). 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

The most frequent motivations for micromanagement, such as detail-orientedness, emotional insecurity, and doubts regarding employees' competence, are 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.g., that both often feature the frequent imposition of double binds and/or a tendency by the authority figure to exhibit hypercriticality.[1] However, external factors such as organizational culture, severe or increased time or performance pressure, severe demands of the regulatory environment, and instability of managerial position (either specific to a micromanager's position or throughout an organization) may also play a role.

In many cases of micromanagement, managers select and implement processes and procedures not for business reasons but rather to enable themselves to feel useful and valuable and/or create the appearance of being so. 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 some cases, managers may have proper goals in mind but place disproportionate emphasis on the role of their division and/or on their own personal role in the furtherance of those goals. 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.[8]

Less frequently, micromanagement is a tactic consciously chosen for the purpose of eliminating unwanted employees: 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").

Effects

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.g., via malicious compliance) and horizontal relationships (e.g., exploitation of moral hazard created by poorly proportioned effort-reward structures).

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."[9] Disengaged employees invest time, but not effort or creativity, in the work in which they are assigned. 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. Micromanagers of this severity often rely on inducing fear in the employees to achieve more control and can severely affect self-esteem of employees as well as their mental and physical health. Occasionally, and especially when their micromanagement involves the suppression of constructive criticism that could otherwise lead to internal reform, severe micromanagers affect subordinates' mental and/or physical health to such an extreme that the subordinates' only way to change their workplace environment is to change employers or even leave the workplace despite lacking alternative job prospects (see constructive discharge, supra).

Finally, the detrimental effects of micromanagement can extend beyond the company itself, especially when the behavior becomes severe enough to force out skilled employees valuable to competitors. Current employees may complain about micromanagement in social settings or to friend-colleagues (e.g., classmates and/or former co-workers) affiliated with other firms in a field. Outside observers such as consultants, clients, interviewees, or visitors may notice the behavior and recount it in conversation with friends and/or colleagues. Most harmfully to the company, forced-out employees, especially those whose advanced skills have made them attractive to other companies and gained them immediate respect, may have few reservations about speaking frankly when answering questions about why they changed employers; they may even deliberately badmouth their former employer. The resulting damage to the company's reputation may create or increase insecurity among management, prompting further micromanagement among managers who use it to cope with insecurity; such a feedback effect creates and perpetuates a vicious cycle. It may follow the forced-out employee to the new job and create an environment of new micromanagement.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Chambers, Harry (2004). My Way or the Highway. Berrett Koehler Publishers, San Francisco. Retrieved on 20 June 2008.
  2. ^ "Micromanagement", Small Business Resource Centre (2006), archived from the original on 24 July 2008
  3. ^ "Micromanage", via Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary.
  4. ^ Dictionary.com (2008). Definition of micromanage. Retrieved on 21 June 2008.
  5. ^ Encarta Dictionary (2008). Definition of micromanage. Retrieved on 21 June 2008. Archived 2009-11-01.
  6. ^ McConnell, Charles (2006). Micromanagement is Mismanagement. National Federation of Independent Business. Retrieved on 20 June 2008.
  7. ^ Thomas, David. Narcissism: Behind the Mask (2010)
  8. ^ Canner, Niko; Bernstein, Ethan (August 17, 2016). "Why is Micromanagement So Infectious?". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  9. ^ Bielaszka-DuVernay, Christina (2008). Micromanage at Your Peril Archived 7 July 2012 at Archive.today. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. Retrieved on 23 June 2008.

Further reading

  • Harry Chambers: "My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide", Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2004), ISBN 978-1-57675-296-8
  • Niko Canner and Ethan Bernstein: "Why is Micromanagement So Infectious?", Harvard Business Review, August 17

External links

4X

4X is a genre of strategy-based video and board games in which players control an empire and "explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate". The term was coined by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of Master of Orion for Computer Gaming World. Since then, others have adopted the term to describe games of similar scope and design.

4X computer games are noted for their deep, complex gameplay. Emphasis is placed upon economic and technological development, as well as a range of non-military routes to supremacy. Games can take a long time to complete since the amount of micromanagement needed to sustain an empire increases as the empire grows. 4X games are sometimes criticized for becoming tedious for these reasons, and several games have attempted to address these concerns by limiting micromanagement, with varying degrees of success.

The earliest 4X games borrowed ideas from board games and 1970s text-based computer games. The first 4X computer games were turn-based, but real-time 4X games are not uncommon. Many 4X computer games were published in the mid-1990s, but were later outsold by other types of strategy games. Sid Meier's Civilization is an important example from this formative era, and popularized the level of detail that later became a staple of the genre. In the new millennium, several 4X releases have become critically and commercially successful.

In the board (and card) game domain, 4X is less of a distinct genre, in part because of the practical constraints of components and playing time. The Civilization board game that gave rise to Sid Meier's Civilization computer game, for instance, has no exploration and no extermination. Unless extermination is targeted at non-player entities, it tends to be either nearly impossible (because of play balance mechanisms, since player elimination is usually considered an undesirable feature) or certainly unachievable (because victory conditions are triggered before extermination can be completed) in board games.

Achaean War

The Achaean War was an uprising by the Greek Achaean League, an alliance of Achaean and other Peloponnesian states in ancient Greece, against the Roman Republic around 146 BC, just after the Fourth Macedonian War. Rome defeated the League swiftly, and as a lesson, they destroyed the ancient city of Corinth. The war ended with Greece's independence taken away, and Greece became the Roman provinces of Achaea and Epirus.

Back-seat driver

A backseat driver is a passenger in a vehicle who is not controlling the vehicle but who excessively comments on the driver's actions and decisions in an attempt to control the vehicle. A backseat driver may be uncomfortable with the skills of the driver, feel out of control since they are not driving the vehicle, or want to tutor the driver while they are at the wheel. Many comment on the speed of the vehicle, or give alternative directions.Some backseat drivers exhibit this type of behavior simply because they feel the driver is taking risks they would not normally take, while others may have other reasons to be nervous, such as when the driver has a poor driving record. However, the practice is somewhat dangerous and instead more likely to cause crashes, according to the Daily Mail, citing a 'Driver Distraction' study by Esure. A survey of 2,000 British drivers in early 2018 found that 70% motorists found backseat driving an annoying habit and that life partners were those most likely to interfere. Although only 21% of motorists admitted to backseat driving, half said they have been in arguments due to interfering comments, and five percent admitted to having jumped a red light during an argument with a backseat driver.The term is also used allusively for any person who intervenes with advice and instructions in affairs they are not responsible for, or subjects they may not understand well. This is in a manner similar to "armchair professional" terms like armchair general. For example, Barb Palser in the American Journalism Review article comments that "The ascendant blogosphere has rattled the news media with its tough critiques and nonstop scrutiny of their reporting." Similarly, it has been used to describe interference from people in business, such as excessive micromanagement.

Business simulation game

Business simulation games, also known as economic simulation games or tycoon games, are games that focus on the management of economic processes, usually in the form of a business. Pure business simulations have been described as construction and management simulations without a construction element, and can thus be called management simulations. Indeed, micromanagement is often emphasized in these kinds of games. They are essentially numeric, but try to hold the player's attention by using creative graphics. The interest in these games lies in accurate simulation of real-world events using algorithms, as well as the close tying of players' actions to expected or plausible consequences and outcomes. An important facet of economic simulations is the emergence of artificial systems, gameplay and structures.

There are many games in this genre which have been designed around numerous different enterprises and different simulations. Theme Park can be called a business simulation because the goal of the game is to attract customers and make profits, but the game also involves a building aspect that makes it a construction and management simulation. This genre also includes many of the "tycoon" games such as Railroad Tycoon and Transport Tycoon. Another similar example of a business simulation (that models a startup business) is "SimVenture Classic".

Trevor Chan is a notable developer of business simulation games, having developed the 1995 game Capitalism which has been described as the "best business simulation game". Similar in complexity and functionality is Virtonomics business simulation. This is a browser-based multiplayer game in which realistic market behavior is formed as a result of the interaction of a large number of players.Active development of Internet technologies and the growth of the Internet audience in recent years gave a powerful impetus to the development of the industry of online games, and in particular, online business simulations. There are many varieties of online business simulations - browser-based and downloadable, single-player and multiplayer, real-time and turn-based. Some online simulations are aimed primarily at the leisure market while others have real world applications in training, education and modelling.

Caesar (video game)

Caesar is a city-building computer game where the player undertakes the role of a Roman governor, building ancient Roman cities.

Released in 1992 on the Amiga, ported the next year to Atari ST, PC and Macintosh, the game was similar to SimCity. In addition to similar graphics and user interfaces, it also came with issues of micromanagement, including complicated city-planning requirements such as building the right number of schools, theaters, libraries, bathhouses, and other amenities, within suitable distances of residential areas.

Cholesterol total synthesis

Cholesterol total synthesis in chemistry describes the total synthesis of the complex biomolecule cholesterol and is considered a great scientific achievement. The research group of Robert Robinson with John Cornforth (Oxford University) published their synthesis in 1951 and that of Robert Burns Woodward with Franz Sondheimer (Harvard University) in 1952. Both groups competed for the first publication since 1950 with Robinson having started in 1932 and Woodward in 1949. According to historian Greg Mulheirn the Robinson effort was hampered by his micromanagement style of leadership and the Woodward effort was greatly facilitated by his good relationships with chemical industry. Around 1949 steroids like cortisone were produced from natural resources but expensive. Chemical companies Merck & Co. and Monsanto saw commercial opportunities for steroid synthesis and not only funded Woodward but also provided him with large quantities of certain chemical intermediates from pilot plants. Hard work also helped the Woodward effort: one of the intermediate compounds was named Christmasterone as it was synthesized on Christmas Day 1950 by Sondheimer.

Other cholesterol schemes have also been developed: racemic cholesterol was synthesized in 1966 by W.S. Johnson, the enantiomer of natural cholesterol was reported in 1996 by Rychnovsky and Mickus , in 2002 by Jiang & Covey and again in 2008 by Rychnovsky and Belani .

Control freak

In psychology-related slang, the term control freak describes an individual who attempts to undermine other people based on how one dictates how everything is done around them. The phrase was first used in the 1970s, an era when stress was laid on the principle of 'doing one's own thing' and letting others do the same.

Delegation

Delegation is the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities. It is one of the core concepts of management leadership. However, the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work. Delegation empowers a subordinate to make decisions, i.e. it is a shifting of decision-making authority from one organizational level to a lower one. Delegation, if properly done, is not fabrication. The opposite of effective delegation is micromanagement, where a manager provides too much input, direction, and review of delegated work. In general, delegation is good and can save money and time, help in building skills, and motivate people. On the other hand, poor delegation might cause frustration and confusion to all the involved parties. Some agents, however, do not favour a delegation and consider the power of making a decision rather burdensome.According to Dr. Kanthi Wijesinghe, Senior Lecturer, National Institute of Education, ‘Delegation begins when the manager passes on some of his responsibilities to the subordinate. Responsibility is the work assigned to an individual’.

When assigning these responsibilities to other individuals, these individuals must be willing and ready to be delegated to as well. The delegated readiness of the individuals is an important factor in determining the success of the delegation. Individuals must be prepared for delegation.

Delegation in IT network is also an evolving field.

Globulation 2

Globulation 2 is a real-time strategy game, available in beta as of January 2009. There were no releases after this and never any final version. The game minimizes gaming micromanagement by automatically assigning tasks to units. The game is developed as free and open source software under the GNU General Public License version 3.

Macromanagement

Macromanagement is a management theory with two different approaches to the definition that both share a common idea; management from afar.

Contrary to micromanagement where managers closely observe and control the works of their employees, macromanagement is a more independent style of organizational management. Managers step back and give employees the freedom to do their job how they think it is best done, so long as the desired result is reached. This is the most commonly applied understanding of macromanagement.

Both styles of management are viewed as a negative when taken to an extreme, so it is important for organizations to develop a balance of micro- and macromanagement practices and understand when to apply which.

The second interpretation of macromanagement is when an organization views itself as a social institution, orienting its goals and purpose toward serving society. To do this, they align the organization’s values, norms, ethics with those of the society they are immersed in. In 1971, Alan Wells defined a social institution as “patterns of rules, customs, norms, beliefs and roles that are instrumentally related to the needs and purposes of society.” Other examples of social institutions in this respect include government and religious organizations, some more in-line with serving society that others.

This interpretation of macromanagement is less about managing employees, but rather managing the organization from a broader perspective that is oriented toward the future. An organization that practices macromanagement greatly considers the future of the organization, the future of society, and their impact on one another.

Micromanagement (gameplay)

Micromanagement in gaming is the handling of detailed gameplay elements by the player. It appears in a wide range of games and genres, including strategy video games, construction and management simulations, and pet-raising simulations. Micromanagement has been perceived in different ways by game designers and players for many years: some perceive it as a useful addition to games that adds options and technique to the gameplay, something that is necessary if the game is to support top-level competitions; some enjoy opportunities to use tactical skill in strategic games; others regard it as an unwelcome distraction from higher levels of strategic thinking and dislike having to do a lot of detailed work. Some developers attempt to minimize micromanagement in a game's interface for this reason.

Military incompetence

Military incompetence refers to incompetencies and failures of military organisations, whether through incompetent individuals or through a flawed institutional culture.

The effects of isolated cases of personal incompetence can be disproportionately significant in military organisations. Strict hierarchies of command provide the opportunity for a single decision to direct the work of thousands, whilst an institutional culture devoted to following orders without debate can help ensure that a bad or miscommunicated decision is implemented without being challenged or corrected.

However, the most common cases of "military incompetence" can be attributable to a flawed organisational culture. Perhaps the most marked of these is a conservative and traditionalist attitude, where innovative ideas or new technology are discarded or left untested. A tendency to believe that a problem can be solved by applying an earlier (failed) solution "better", be that with more men, more firepower, or simply more élan, is common. A strict hierarchical system often discourages the devolution of power to junior commanders, and can encourage micromanagement by senior officers.

The nature of warfare provides several factors which exacerbate these effects; the fog of war means that information about the enemy forces is often limited or inaccurate, making it easy for the intelligence process to interpret the information to agree with existing assumptions, or to fit it to their own preconceptions and expectations. Communications tend to deteriorate in battlefield situations, with the flow of information between commanders and combat units being disrupted, making it difficult to react to changes in the situation as they develop.

After operations have ceased, military organisations often fail to learn effectively from experience. In victory, whatever methods have been used—no matter how inefficient—appear to have been vindicated (see victory disease), whilst in defeat there is a tendency to select scapegoats and to avoid looking in detail at the broader reasons for failure.

My way or the highway

My way or the highway is a predominantly American idiom that dates back to the 1970s. It suggests an ultimatum like "take it or leave it", which indicates that the listener(s) (who are typically not in a position to challenge the options, e.g. employees or those lacking money) must totally accept the speaker's decision or suffer negative consequences such as being fired, asked to leave, or receive nothing. It may sometimes be seen with other pronouns, for example, her way or the highway.

The idiom has been associated with narcissism and micromanagement.

Number 10 Policy Unit

The Number 10 Policy Unit is a body of policymakers in 10 Downing Street in the British government. Originally set up to support Harold Wilson in 1974, it has gone through a series of guises to suit the needs of successive Prime Ministers, staffed variously by political advisers, civil servants or a combination of both.

The Coalition Government of May 2010 quickly disbanded two major parts of central infrastructure, the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit (PMDU) and Prime Minister's Strategy Unit (PMSU), as part of the Prime Minister's agenda to reduce the number of special advisers and end micromanagement of Whitehall. In their place, a strengthened Policy and Implementation Unit was launched in early 2011, staffed wholly by civil servants and reporting jointly to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister under joint heads Paul Kirby (Policy) and Kris Murrin (Implementation).Members of the Policy Unit in 2010 were Gavin Lockhart-Mirams (Home Affairs), Sean Worth (Health and Adult Social Care), Chris Brown (Education), Richard Freer (Defence), Tim Luke (Business and Enterprise), Michael Lynas (Big Society) and Ben Moxham (Energy and Environment). The Unit is supported by the Research and Analytics Unit.The current Downing Street Director of Policy is James Marshall, who was appointed by Theresa May on 27 June 2017.

Pointy-haired Boss

The Pointy-haired Boss (often abbreviated to just PHB or "The Boss") is Dilbert's boss in the Dilbert comic strip. He is notable for his micromanagement, gross incompetence, obliviousness to his surroundings, and unhelpful buzzword usage; yet somehow retains power in the workplace. In the Dilbert TV series, in which he is voiced by comedian Larry Miller, the character is notably smarter (although still quite stupid and inept) and more openly corrupt. He is also parodied in Bee Movie as Dean Buzzwell, also voiced by Larry Miller. Mr Perkins in Despicable Me is visually based on him. His motto is Anything I Don't Understand Must Be Easy.

Real-time strategy

Real-time strategy (RTS) is a subgenre of strategy video games where the game does not progress incrementally in turns. This is distinguished from turn-based strategy (TBS), in which all players take turns when playing.

In an RTS, the participants position and maneuver units and structures under their control to secure areas of the map and/or destroy their opponents' assets. In a typical RTS, it is possible to create additional units and structures during the course of a game. This is generally limited by a requirement to expend accumulated resources. These resources are in turn garnered by controlling special points on the map and/or possessing certain types of units and structures devoted to this purpose. More specifically, the typical game of the RTS genre features resource gathering, base building, in-game technological development and indirect control of units. The term "real-time strategy" was coined by Brett Sperry to market Dune II in the early 1990s.The tasks a player must perform to succeed at an RTS can be very demanding, and complex user interfaces have evolved to cope with the challenge. Some features have been borrowed from desktop environments; for example, the technique of "clicking and dragging" to select all units under a given area. Though some game genres share conceptual and gameplay similarities with the RTS template, recognized genres are generally not subsumed as RTS games. For instance, city-building games, construction and management simulations, and games of the real-time tactics variety are generally not considered to be "real-time strategy".

Real-time tactics

Real-time tactics or RTT is a subgenre of tactical wargames played in real-time simulating the considerations and circumstances of operational warfare and military tactics. It is differentiated from real-time strategy gameplay by the lack of classic resource micromanagement and base or unit building, as well as the greater importance of individual units and a focus on complex battlefield tactics.

Strategy video game

A strategy video game is a video game that focuses on skillful thinking and planning to achieve victory. It emphasizes strategic, tactical, and sometimes logistical challenges. Many games also offer economic challenges and exploration. They are generally categorized into four sub-types, depending on whether the game is turn-based or real-time, and whether the game focuses on strategy or tactics.

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