«Leadership: Micromanagement» Essay Sample

Leadership: Micromanagement

1. Introduction

1.1 Background

Various managing styles have emerged as a result of the continuous evolution of organizational leadership. Waal, Heijen, Selvarajah, and Meyer (2014) observe that leaders at the different levels of the company structure have developed their own unique ways of managing the people under their leadership umbrella. One of them, which is adapted by many organizational leaders, is micromanagement. Though suitable in certain situations, some may consider micromanagement to be the leadership approach that should not be used on a long term basis due to its negative impact on employees and the organization.

Many organizational leaders fall into the trap of micromanagement and fail to recognize it in time. Richard and White (2010) note that the most affected are those leaders who have risen over the ranks into higher positions. They are used to their ways working for them, thus, they do not realize that a goal can be achieved using an alternative way. Therefore, they produce the habit of looking over their subordinates’ shoulders, offering solutions while failing to take into consideration regular workers’ opinions, criticizing others, interfering with the work of employees, and failing to delegate the work. Accordingly, the high employee turnover due to the excessive control and supervision of leaders has made it necessary for organizations to understand micromanagement, its causes, and ways to reduce it.

1.2 Defining the Research Problem

Many publications on leadership often make recommendations to enrich the discipline and enhance its practice in organizations. Therefore, it is no surprise that only very few articles address the problem of micromanagement as being a poor leadership style. The high employee turnover that has been attributed to micromanagement has forced organizations to pay close attention to the problem. In the short run micromanagement brings about positive change, but the long run impact of this leadership style threatens the survival of organizations. In truth, micromanagement should be perceived as an endemic corporate sickness that ought to be cured.

Overall, it is imperative to distinguish between micromanagement and attention to detail. It is a positive characteristic for managers to be concerned with details, and it is otherwise when they micromanage. This research will, thus, focus on micromanagement as a problem met by the leadership structure of the majority of the organizations.

1.3 Purpose of Research

The purpose of this research is to assess the leadership problem of micromanagement with the following objectives in mind:

  • To help those in leadership positions in organizations realize when they are micromanaging.
  • To illustrate the impact of micromanagement on employees and on the organization as a whole.
  • To find ways of preventing leaders in organizations from becoming micromanagers.

1.4 Significance of the Study

This work attempts to look into the reasons that stand behind managers that practice micromanagement instead of effective leadership and its impact on the organization. Thus, the study serves as an important source of information to organizations and their leadership on how to prevent micromanagement in order to retain a talented group of employees. The study will look into the reality of factors leading to the development of micromanagement, methods, and techniques that can be used to prevent and eliminate this style of leadership. Moreover, the findings of the research will provide fair information based on the views and perceptions of executives practicing micromanagement as a leadership style and employees working for micromanagers. A key contributions that this research can achieve is to introduce better leadership styles in the affected organizations and to improve the working conditions of employees by having trusting and empowering managers that increase the organizations’ capability to retain their staff.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Definitions of the Focal Concept

Richard and White (2010) define micromanagement as a management style, where the boss closely observes subordinates or controls every aspect of their work. In addition, Gilbert, Carr-Ruffino, Ivancevich, and Konopaske (2012) provide the definition of micromanagement as the practices of exercising excessive control of a project or the people working on the project. Meanwhile Chatterjee and Hambrick (2007) define micromanagement as the control of an enterprise in every particular way and in the smallest detail with the effect of inhibiting progress and neglecting broader, high level objectives.

2.2 Overview of Previous and Current Findings

Preceding literature has made efforts to highlight micromanagement as a weakness in organizations. Although they fail to place emphasis on its detrimental effects on the leadership tructure of an organization, the works highlight the dangers of micromanagement to the overall well-being of an organization and the significance of putting a stop to it. Micromanagement results in negative consequences for organizations due to its direct impact on the organizations’ most significant resources, employees. Meyerson (2012) asserts that micromanagement impacts the employee empowerment and inhibits a career growth. According to Markos and Sridevi (2010), the current organizational culture is made up of employees who value autonomy. For this reason many of them resent being closely monitored by their leaders, whether managers or supervisors. The need to consult their superior on every detail leads to poor self-confidence. Moreover, the lack of autonomy causes the employees to lose the ability of seeing the bigger picture, hence, it highly affects their creativity. Employees eventually end up feeling powerless since they must do everything in accordance to the wishes of their micromanaging boss. The affected employees are derived the chance to develop leadership qualities. A study by Meyerson (2012) contends that employees do not enjoy their competencies and capabilities being questioned, as they prefer being granted some degree of independence while doing their jobs.

Further, the relations between the leaders and the employees are severely damaged. Barnard (2008) opines that the need to control every aspect of work by some organizational leaders tends to cultivate organizational politics and a lot of leg pulling due to the rift between the leader and employees. Although, Gilbert et al. (2012) explain that the tendency of a manager to micromanage is not only brought about by the personality of the manager, but also by the organizational structure. They insist that too many hierarchical levels in an organization tend to leave managers with few decisions to make and tasks to carry out. In order to find something to do with their time, such managers end up micromanaging their staff. Chatterjee and Hambrick (2007) observe that it becomes a situation of the leader against the rest, and, in the long run, the organization suffers as the rest opts to leave due to frustration and feelings of demoralization. Richard and White (2010) point out that close to 60 to 70 percent of employees leave their jobs due to micromanagement.

3. Research Questions

The provided background information enables the formation of research questions that will be investigated in this report: the first question wonders about the reasons of development of the tendency to micromanage, while the second focuses on the harmful results that micromanagement as a leadership style may bring to an organization.

While there is anecdotal concern over micromanagement, empirical investigation into its occurrence remains sparse. A modest amount of research fails to explain why some managers develop the tendency to micromanage their employees. Therefore, to investigate the first question it is imperative to discuss the theory relating to it. The Leader Member Exchange (LMX) theory can be used to explain the process. Accordingly, Lunenburg (2010) agrees that managers tend to develop some way of relating to their staff and these relationships can lead to the employee growth or decline. Micromanagement occurs in the latter result of the relationship between the manager and the staff.

The personnel who lack growth due to an inadequate relationship with their managers are known as the out-group. It is usually known to be incompetent, unmotivated, unreliable, and the manager does not usually trust them. Lunenburg (2010) claims that the manager usually finds tasks as being too important or too complex to be given to this group. For this reason, the leader develops a habit of hovering over employees, controlling how they accomplish their job due to fear that they are not effective. In such a way, soon enough, without the realization or the intent of such actions, the leader starts micromanaging.

McGregor’s theory X can be used to understand the second question. According to Mohamed and Nor (2013), theory X makes a number of assumptions that have an influence over the ways some managers perceive their employees. The main assumption states that workers need to be continuously watched and instructed on what to do. Therefore, the managers who perceive workers this way believe that their employees dislike work, avoid it whenever they can, and can only be motivated to work through reward or punishment. Hence, in order to prevent staff from avoiding work the supervisor develops a strict control or monitoring behavior, which in better terms is itself a micromanaging. Resulting in poor relations between the manager and employees, the micromanagement thereby forces them to lose interest in the work and, consequently, leads to negative consequences for the organization.

4. Methodology

4.1 Sampling Methods and Size

The sampling methods to be used for the study are stratified and opportunity sampling. Stratified sampling will be used to identify the different types of organizations that produce executivess using micromanagement as their leadership style. This method has been chosen because it reduces sampling error according to Robinson (2014). Opportunity sampling is sometimes referred to as convenience sampling, which is another method that will be used for the research. It will use executives from organizations that are available and willing to take part in the research. Robinson (2014) asserts that it is a positive method as it is based on convenience. Further, it is a quick and easy way of choosing participants for the study.

The sample size of this report consists of a survey of 100 executives and 10 in-depth case studies with managers. 100 executives from 30 different US companies have undertaken the survey, meant to measure the magnitude of micromanagement and to determine the kind of behavior that characterized micromanagers. The managers who participated in the survey were experienced but were yet to reach the top positions in their organizations. The case studies were conducted on 10 experienced executives and mainly involved assessing their personalities through interviewing their peers, subordinates and the executives themselves on their leadership style.

4.2 Analysis

The results of the survey revealed that many of the executives succeeded as managers, but stumbled when they were promoted to higher level positions of their organizations. Subsequently, these levels require leadership, in search of which the executives resort to management. It is noted that the underlying cause for this was compulsive micromanagement that was brought about by perfectionist tendencies. The desire to be impeccable was driving these executives into controlling every aspect of their staff, thus, preventing them from engaging in leadership behavior itself. Interviews with most of the staff working under micromanagement concluded that they were far from being empowered, trusted, inspired or challenged by their leaders. It was, therefore, established that a great number of the executives were struggling to become leaders and this struggle revolved around their need to move beyond micromanagement.

The case studies revealed that most of the studied executives pursued perfectionist ideas, but in a stressed and tense manner. It led to them thinking that the people working under their command may not live up to their expectations. Many of these executives were found to have troubles while relaxing, as they developed a routine of being overly careful and vigilant. Thus, they eventually became as demanding of themselves and of others.

5. Conclusion and Recommendation

All in all, micromanagement is not an entirely negative management style, since it can be useful in some situations like when there is urgency to complete a project. The main disadvantage of this leadership style is that it cannot be used on a long term basis, as it may not only lead to the frustration, demoralization of employees, but also put in jeopardy the overall survival of the organization. Additionally, it is a known fact that micromanagement results in overworked managers, de-motivated staff, and below the optimum performance of the organization. It further threatens the well-being of the affected organization. Thus, even though the manager is striving to pay attention to details, they should not do so in a manner that suffocates the people they manage. However, it is its ability to impact the productivity of the organization that contributes to its success.

All in all, while micromanagement remains one of the most condemned managerial mistakes, it yet remains an acceptable way for organizations to employ. Organizations should find ways of creating the organizational structures that prevent the abundance of hierarchical levels that encourage managers to micromanage as they strive to apply their time. Further research oт the matter will help organizations deal with leadership problems before their impact becomes too difficult to handle.

The recommendations were created for managers practicing micromanagement to apply in order to become empowering leaders. First, the managers should carry out an objective self-evaluation in order to determine if they are micromanaging their staff. Since usually those who practice micromanagement are not aware of their actions, the self-evaluation will reveal if the manager has micromanaging traits and if there is need to make a change. Second, the manager practicing this leadership style should commit to making a change after accepting that their way is threatening the well-being of the organization. It is significant, since change begins with acknowledging the existence of a problem. Third, the manager should strive to program themselves to alter by means of applying cognitive psychology and behavioral medication techniques, which enable them to self-manage. Finally, the manager should try becoming more open-minded and seek the opinion of those they are managing on their leadership style. They can do it by requesting their staff to evaluate them, meeting with them, and requesting suggestions for improvement. It will go a long way in enhancing not only their management style, but also their relationship with employees.

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