In my last company, I had quite a few experiences of micro-management. At times, I was being micro-managed and at others, I closely saw my colleagues and friends at the receiving end.
My personal experience tells me that, there are few reasons why some managers believe in micro-managing their teams, even though it most certainly hampers the personal productivity and somewhat damages the confidence of new people starting a job. For me, it was not these two, but I used to get irritated which obviously damaged my productivity.
Reason 1 # Feeling of “I am the BOSS here”: A person has been newly promoted to the role of a manager without being formally trained at any concept of people management
Such employees, who have been passed on the baton of managerial responsibilities recently, tend to think that it’s part of their job to keep riding on the back of their team members. This happens, at times, just due to the fact that the newly promoted guy needs to show the importance of his designation. He wants his subordinates to recognize the fact that they(subordinates) have to listen to him now, and ask of his permission/advice in everything they do. Now, if a team was performing without being micro-managed, it will feel irritated by the constant questioning. It gets worse in case of a team of high-performers, who have been doing their job very well and are very clear about the overall goals. Believe me, none of us like someone to be standing behind our back while we do something. Someone who has been at a job, knows how to get things done, and if he/she will get stuck, they will definitely not be sitting quiet about it, they will ask for the manager’s help. But, the managers need to give SPACE. Unfortunately, from my personal experience, I can tell you that, not being trained in any project management concepts or the most important of all – people management, spells doom in most of the cases like this.
Reason 2: You do the work and tell me what you did so that I can update my manager and show that I too am working
Pretty interesting. I have seen some technical managers, who, in big projects, tend to hide very efficiently. Hide – from work. I have seen a few guys, who don’t believe in owning and actually doing tasks, and are just waiting for the subordinates to finish up, and then they get on their backs asking details about everything, so that they can send a mail to the client, or to the senior managers. These guys are the most shameless of all. They do it every day and you would stop caring about it, but two things will happen, especially to those who started new on a job – they will loose confidence that they cannot execute a task till its end AND slowly they will feel cheated of the opportunity to show it to the senior managers and clients, that it is actually someone else who is doing the work.
I don’t buy the arguments of people, who say that sending a mail to client needs some caution or experience and so only someone experienced should do it. My counterpoint to this is – First, you can always ask the superior to sit with the guy and help him/her in writing the mail, cross check it, tell him/her right there about the mistakes, how to write, what to write, and all. Wouldn’t this be smarter? And just think, what good it will do the morale of the new guy? He will feel confident and learn faster than just reading a mail for which he/she might have spent the entire day, just to see it being sent by someone else. Second, everyone learns by mistakes, until and unless you let someone do something, one can never learn!