I have been fortunate during my career not to have worked for a micromanager (aka control freak), but I have seen the effects of what micromanagement does to individuals, teams and the wider business, and it is not positive.
I have seen the aftermath (in terms of the damage within the business) of micromanagement and will expand on the significant impact it had in following three areas:
1. the human capital,
2. the business framework,
3. Design (of product and processes).
The Human Capital: The impact on a number of people throughout the business was unbelievable. I know of some people who were still licking their wounds 6 months after the micromanager had left the company. They were battered and bruised and dis-engaged and lacked the confidence to bring their ideas to the table. What made it worse for them, was the implementation of a middle management team, some of which also exhibited the same type of micromanagement style which did not help the situation for the team who were actually carrying the load and getting the job done.
The Business Framework: There was very little here in terms of substance. It mostly resided in the micromanager's mind resulting in subjective approaches to similar activities since there was no real framework or structure. Development plans and CAPEX budgets were scratched out on the back of envelopes and post-it notes. There was no demand planing process, no connection to the finance systems and no effort to look at efficiency gains, waste reduction and process improvements.
Design: Here I am mainly referring to the product range. Innovation and creativity was discouraged in the name of manufacturability. Not only were new ideas in relation to the product discounted, but also in relation to the production process. It was very much akin to the Ford approach with the Model T. However, eventually Ford moved on as it was recognised that change was needed due to competitor activities but most importantly to attract the consumer.
What gets overlooked is the legacy this type of management style or behaviour leaves on a company when practised for too long. I mentioned in a recent post Micromanagement: What is the underlying message? that I think there is a place for micromanaging "but in very short, limited and infrequent bursts which is in the context of developing your resources”
The danger here, is during times of growth and cash-flow abundance, failure to limit this style can make it very difficult to deal with the challenges when the glory days are behind you, because internally the business doesn’t have the fibre, processes and adaptability that is required, and hence faces an even greater challenge to overcome what is needed for success and sustainability.
What do you think?