Knowledge Exchange

To Be a Micromanager or to Be a Leader – A Choice Every Manager Has to Make!

Sakshi Gulati (Class of 2020)

I began my career in an individual contributor role and progressed towards Project Manager, owing to the management skills and business acumen that I garnered during my MBA. Throughout my career thus far, I have always wondered about the extent to which a manager should micro-manage, and what exactly makes a manager a leader,coach, or a micro-manager. I am sure many of you, like myself, have had a chance to work with a micromanager, a coach and a leader. Knowing when to micromanage in order to help a subordinate excel in a specific area and knowing when to give space is crucial.

People often confuse a micro-manager and a coach. Many companies assign a coach, as well as your manager, who provides information, helps set performance goals, discusses performance movements, and suggests ways to improve.

A micromanager is one who exercises excessive supervision over his/her team members. He/she will monitor employees’ actions closely and provide feedback more frequently than required. As micromanagers continue to provide feedback, it is highly likely that this frequent feedback will end up consuming a considerable amount of time and impede employees from taking up responsibilities of their own. This in turn could lead to a hostile work environment.

Some examples of micro-management are as follows: asking to be CC’d on every email, following up excessively on work assigned to others, not leaving any scope for the team to take initiative and come up with ideas, assuming the main role in any endeavour which translates into spoon-feeding subordinates, etc.

A coach or leader on the other hand provides clear requirements, sets targets, and provides ample time for employees to take initiative and complete the job. They should be someone who can see how to improve things and move ahead in a manner that is well-aligned with the business vision. Many people know the theoretical definition of a leader, but it requires experience and the right sort of mindset to translate the same into action.

Some solutions may help!

One option could be to help employees set targets on to-do lists. This can be achieved with the help of multiple project management applications such as Microsoft Planner,, Wrike and so on. Once the to-do lists are set, follow ups need to be arranged by managers based on the target date that has been set, and/or automatic email alerts that can be set through these apps.

Another scrum or agile approach entails daily scrum meetings to be held for a duration of 15 minutes to understand where the project stands and determine the next steps to be taken. This helps identify any challenges and provides an understanding of the team’s progress on a daily basis, without the pressure of micromanagement or investing too much time in following up.

Furthermore, having an open-door policy which involves employees reaching out to managers freely in case of any ad-hoc challenges is another way to avoid micromanagement, and helps in streamlining the process.

When to manage and how much to be involved?

After setting short-term targets, in case the team as a whole or an individual employee needs help with respect to completing the assigned work within the target duration, the ideal manager provides direction on how to get it done effectively and efficiently. Managers should provide detailed feedback in case the work assigned is completed in time but fails to meet quality requirements. This in turn, will make micro-management effective for short-term activities. Remember, micro-management is a tactic, not a style and should remain so until this becomes a habit. Some experts believe that micro-management should not last beyond 30 days.

In conclusion, there may be a lot of cases where an employee is not the right fit for a company or vice versa. There may be a possibility that the given task is not attuned to the employee’s capabilities and interests. A bad performer may or may not necessarily mean bad employee. Micro-management should only be used restrictively to get the best out of individuals by either promoting them to extract something they are good at or can be good at in future. Thus, only in such a scenario, will there be a win-win situation for employees and organisations wherein a healthy and positive environment is maintained.