Why Micro-Management is Bad

by Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt)

I like to go to my good friend Google to see what words really mean because as we know, there are terms that get misused.  A good definition of micro-manager is, according to viewer Do You Micro-Manage?votes on Yahoo!, a person who is controlling and has to have their hands into everything. They do not allow for others to handle anything without being scrutinized. Sound familiar? Have you ever been micro-managed, or worse yet, do your team members ask you to stop micro-managing them? If you are not sure, here are some the indicators that you might be guilty of doing this to your team directly from my own experience and those I work with:

  • If you hear people just blatantly say, “Stop micro-managing me!” It’s probably a good cue that you are.
  • If you are the one always asking, “What are you doing all day?” to your team members.
  • If you ask the same question over and over again like we did when we were children, “are we there yet, are we there yet?” only now it’s, “What’s the status? What’s the status now?”
  • If you pick holes in everything that someone does.
  • If you take work back and finish it yourself and do not allow for others to make decisions without consulting you first.

If these sound familiar, they may indicate that you are micro-managing. Why is this so bad? We as project managers like process, so let me just lay out a simple process that shows what the end result of micro-managing just one person. 

Essentially, micro-management destroys a person’s self-esteem. From that point, it generates poor morale. Mistrust begins to build, eventually causing that person to shut down. They stop giving you input, feedback or status because they really don’t care anymore; their passion for the project is gone. They are not loyal to you, don’t get their work done and worst of all, may solicit supporters. When people think they are being wronged, they naturally begin to tell other people: “Can you believe they gave me this work to do and took it back? Can you believe they criticized what I did?” Their coworkers may sympathize and say, “Oh yeah, that person does that to me too.” Before you know it, they are corralling against you and may get the whole team behind them. That’s not a good thing for a project manager. It destroys your credibility and then things really don’t get done. The ultimate result is a dysfunctional team and failed project. So that, my friend, is the reason micro-management is bad.

If you found these tips from Jennifer Whitt, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.

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