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At work, micromanagement is generally frowned upon but what is macromanagement? We take a look at these two approaches and discuss why leaders taking a more 'hands-off' approach might lead to better results.
As a leader, do you find yourself supervising every work task and directing each output or are you just focused on the end result? If you often concentrate on the detail and holding your worker's hands to achieve results, then chances are you are a ‘micromanager’.
Micromanagers are notorious for being detail orientated and directing their teams closely to ensure success. They are never surprised about results because they have checked in with employees every step of the way.
Whilst micromanagement may be appropriate for a new employee, or one who is struggling, in many scenarios it can lead to:
It is not good news for the manager either. Leaders who micromanage tend to have other issues:
Leadership is not an easy job and leaders of today are required to adapt to a whole range of complexities in order to deliver business results.
Leaders who are too laid back run the risk of not knowing what is going on, missing deadlines and accepting mediocracy. On the flipside, leaders who micromanage can overwork and overmanage employees, leading to resentment and a lack of innovation. Some leaders are drawn to micromanagement because they were managed that way themselves and for others the desire to micromanage comes from a fear of team failure.
Unfortunately, the bottom line is that consistent micromanagement sends a clear message that employees cannot be trusted and that they don’t have the capability to succeed on their own.
So, what is the alternative?
Macromanagers are famous for mapping out the big picture and asking employees to fill in the details. It is considered a ‘hands off’ approach whereby the employee assumes responsibility of asking for direction when needed and delivering the task on time.
There is, however, a difference between ‘hands off’ and ‘leaving employees to fend for themselves’. Macromanagers provide the direction, big picture and desired result – but also provide the support.
The macromanager is very much focussed on the ‘end game’ and is not too concerned about the road travelled to get there. It is about trust, empowerment and support when required.
Macromanagers share a common approach by:
Without question, macromanagement has fast become a popular leadership style embraced by employers across multiple industries, however, there needs to be a balance. Whilst strong performing employees will always find their way to the destination, some employees become lost on their journey. This can create chaos and missed deadlines.
It is recommended that leaders adapt to the individual needs and the situation. As an example, when there are tight deadlines, complex issues or new employees – a degree of micromanagement will help keep tasks on course. Similarly, where there are constantly changing priorities, disruptors and critical deliverables, it is important that the leader can stay close enough to ensure team success.
Ultimately, macromanagers have a place in every organisation as they cultivate innovation and creativity whilst empowering employees to be their best.
Some organisations rely heavily on micromanagement as there is a fear that results won’t be achieved or teams will become lazy or complacent without strong and regular direction.
This is a dangerous mindset as employers will never fully realise the talent and potential of their employees whilst they are being restrained from above. It can be scary as a leader to let go of the reins, but it can be rewarding when employees are given the chance to choose their path to success as employees will be likely to:
Perhaps it’s time that organisations release the temptation to micromanage and consider what a workplace culture could look like if every employee felt trusted, empowered and supported to reach the end result. Sure, the stakes might seem high to loosen the leadership grip – but perhaps the real risk is in holding on too tight.
Ai Group offers a range of short course management and leadership training programs that have been designed to assist the development of participants through their management and leadership journey.
Check out our 'Leadership and Management Training' area for further information or call the Ai Group Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77.