Menace of the Micro Manager

Frank Newberryin Training & Education

Micro Manager and Macro Manager

A micro manager is a person who closely supervises all employees to ensure that work is carried out to the highest standard. Not a bad thing at all if:

- The slightest error or omission might be spotted immediately by paying customers or other key stakeholders
- The stakes are high for the employer ('make or break' for the organisation)
- The staff are new or unqualified, seasonal and/or inexperienced and the boss is the only one with the necessary expertise and knowledge.

The above conditions are often determined by an organisation's situation. However, many micro managers closely supervise their staff whether these conditions exist or not. The micro manager's people complain to me about seem to have little or no confidence in employees' ability to do the work to a decent standard.

Micro managers often excuse all the checking and inspecting they do by claiming to be 'a perfectionist'. Because of this, they can also find delegating tasks to people very difficult.

The opposite of this type of individual would be a 'macro manager'. Macro managers, when at work, are more likely to define the desired outcomes of a task and then leave staff alone to perform the task. A macro manager assumes staff are competent and can complete a task without being continually reminded of the process and the standards expected.

Why do some people become micro managers?

Many micro managers were promoted from the lower levels after they had proved their ability at that level - where the real work is done. After a while, they may have been promoted because of their accumulated experience and expertise. Their employers, at some point, may have even used promotion to stop them leaving and going to their competition.

Sadly, in this sector, many people get the supervisor job, but not the supervisor training. In my experience, many end up not being a true supervisor but an expert worker who can solve work related problems. Unfortunately, the supervisor skills like planning, organising, motivating people and controlling results are not developed.

Many promotees are also not trained to build their staff's confidence so that one day they will be able to take on greater responsibility. So, promotees micro manage to compensate.

This inevitably causes some supervisors to judge their staff on their current skills - often unfavourably - because the supervisor's own skills are superior. They have not yet accepted, for whatever reason, that their staff's skill development is their (the supervisor's) professional responsibility. So again, they micro manage to compensate.

Many promotees even find it hard to give up the 'work tasks' that they are good at themselves, so - you've guessed it - they micro manage to compensate.

The greatest problem caused by micro managers

There are several unnecessary problems caused by micro managers, but I want to mention just the greatest one.

I believe that the greatest problem micro managers cause their employers is the loss to the organisation of good workers, or people with real potential. These good people leave the organisation because they feel they cannot progress under a micro manager. These 'better' employees usually leave to get a job with more prospects or one with greater potential for growth and professional development.

The micro manager ultimately causes the employer to be left with the less talented (who cannot get work elsewhere) and who - guess what - need to be micro managed.

In my view, there can be no greater loss to an organisation than the loss of its good workers.

In part 2 - Frank suggests some ways we can all manage the micro manager.

© 2017 Frank Newberry

For more on this topic and some great training seminars, why not register for Pitchcare's Supervisory Essentials Workshops this winter?

Frank's proven, popular, highly interactive and entertaining one day seminars are 'stand-alone'. You can take any one, any two, any three or all four seminars. They will all be held at the National Sports Centre, Bisham Abbey, Marlow, Buckinghamshire this winter:

Dates are:
Taking Charge - November 2017 (tba)
Getting Better Results - December 2017 (tba)
Enhanced Communication Skills - February 2018 (tba)
Problem Solving & Decision Making - March 2018 (tba)

For more details, including how to book your place on all Pitchcare workshops, visit the website or contact Chris Johnson, Pitchcare's Training Development Manager at

Article Tags:
Training & education