The Grey Chronicles


Are You A Micromanager?

Managers manage differently. The extremes can either be those who do not manage at all or those that need to manage everything. A balance of both these styles is typical, and are sometimes called great leaders. Managers who does nothing short of what managers should do might lack the knowledge, the skills and the aptitude for management. Coining a word, these type of managers can be called sLACKers. On the other hand, managers who are obsessed with everything are called micromanagers, or derogatorily called control-freaks. These managers are likely to spend more time trying to control (Johnson, 2008) all the intricate parts of the business (such as spares, paperwork, stock levels, etc.) that they sometimes lose focus on the goals of the company, thus results into mismanagement (Marino, 1998).

A number of literatures addressed micromanaging, but each of these provided their own description of what defines a micromanager. This post, as well as the succeeding ones, aims to explore the characteristics of micromanagers and their perceived effects to a corporation.

Micromanager: A Definition

Morgan (2007) describes a micromanager is a manager using a cluster of behaviours, such as closely observes and/or controls the work of their employees; gives general instructions for small tasks and supervises larger concerns, and oversees and assesses every step. Lemmex (2007) clarified that the tell-tale signs of a micromanager is that "they have a hard time delegating tasks and likely spend more time “telling” staff what to do and how to do it versus “asking” them what they did and how it went". Micromanagers also believe that they care about things (quality, deadlines, etc.) more than anyone. A micromanager, Dobzinski (2007) wrote, interacts with employees on a level far more basic and detailed than necessary.

Chambers (2004) observed that micromanagement is one of the most widely condemned managerial sins, and one of the most common employee complaints. For example, 21 percent of 2,000 respondents of an on-line survey at choose micromanaging from a list of 43 kinds of bad behaviour by bosses that would prompt them to bail. (Immen, 2005). Men cited micromanaging twice as often as women. Chui (2006) while acknowledging a paradigm shift supported by business schools teaching managers not to manage but to lead, included micromanaging as one of the seven habits of highly ineffective project managers.

Micromanagement, Fracaro (2007) explains, may arise from a supervisor’s concern for details, increased performance pressure, insecurity, or as a tool to terminate an employee. Guiliana (2006) cautioned that "empowerment may be considered the polar opposite of micromanagement".

Adam Hanft (2004), a self-proclaimed micromanager, acknowledged that micromanagement is the affliction of small-minded, task-oriented, visionless leaders. Micromanagement (Johnson, 2008) is often just a symptom of ineffective planning, too much compassion and the inability to judge performance and develop bench strength. Adams (2002) psychoanalyzed that this repressive style is symptomatic of insecurity or paranoia based on a lack of faith and trust in other people. Love (2007) states that “Micromanagement is a difficult behavior or habit to stop.” If a manager spends 75% of one’s time "helping" out employees, then one is micromanaging. Aside from that, Luffy (2008) adds: a micromanager is irritated when others make decisions without consulting him. Mancall and Hubbard (2000) clarified that micromanagers disrespect subordinates, exploit workers, or repress individuality. Martin (2004) even stated that "Micromanagement demoralizes people." and urged a stop to this practice.


Adams, Dr. Paul E. (2002). Micromanaging: Inefficient Business Management Style. USA: Paradigm News, Inc. April 15, 2002. back to text

Chambers, Harry E. (2004), My Way or the Highway, The Micromanagement Survival Guide. USA: Berret-Koehler Pubs, December 2004. 250 pp. back to text

Dobzinski, Alan M. with Margaret E. Wilson (2007). Are Micromanagers Sabotaging Your Company? USA: Tandem Partners, 2007. back to text

Fracaro, Kenneth (2007), The Consequences of Micromanaging. Contract Management, July 2007, pp. 4-8. back to text

Guiliana, John [AAPPM] (2006), Unleash Your Staff’s Potential . . . Avoid Micromanagement. Ma., USA: American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management, 18 October 2006. back to text

Hanft, Adam (2004), Micromanagers, Unite! USA: Inc. Magazine, December 2004, pp. 128. back to text

Immen, Wallace (2005), How bad does a boss have to be before employees bolt? USA: Globe and Mail, 29 June 2005. p. C3. back to text

Johnson, Dr. Rick (2008), Empowerment ~ Are You a Micro Manager? USA: Strategist, LLC. 05 July 2008, back to text

Lemmex, Steve (2007) What Is Micromanagement? And What You Can Do To Avoid It. USA: Global Knowledge, 14 February 2007. back to text

Love, Sally (2007), Are You a Micromanager? USA: 14 July 2007. back to text

Luffy, Molly (2008), Micromanagement: Necessary evil or just plain evil? USA: Business know-how, 2008. back to text

Mancall, Jacqueline C. & John Hubbard (2000), Against Management. INFO 640: Managing Information Organizations, 20 March 2000. pp. 1-6. back to text

Marino, Sal F. (1998), Micromanagement leads to mismanagement, Industry Week, 247(15), p. 22. back to text

Martin, Paula K. (2004), Stop Micromanaging. Martin Training Associates, 27 May 2004. back to text

Morgan, Patricia (2007) Help! I’m Micromanaged. USA:, 2007. pp. 1-3. back to text


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