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Micromanagement has become a very popular descriptor in today’s workplace. Webster's Dictionary defines micromanage as “to manage with great or excessive control or attention to details.” Most people today hear these words and immediately think of the annoying manager who constantly looks over their shoulder, questions everything they do, won’t let them make any decisions; and runs his/her office like a military command and control center. To be fair, not all managers who are given this pejorative title deserve it. It is the role of a manager to monitor progress, control quality, evaluate performance, make decisions, give instruction, and offer advice and guidance.

For example:
(i) if deadlines are missed or customers are not satisfied, a manager needs to get more involved in the details to help solve the problem,
(ii) or if a project is not going as planned, a manager needs the details in order to adjust the plan and/or make the necessary decisions,
(iii) or if a staff member is not able to perform, a manager needs to become more involved in their work in order to coach them effectively,
(iv) or if a staff member is not willing to perform, a manager needs to monitor their performance closely in order to motivate or discipline them accordingly,
(v) or if a manager has to report on progress, he/she needs a detailed understanding of the processes and inner workings of the department,
(vi) or if a staff member is responsible for a sensitive file/job, a manager may need to know all the details in case the staff member is absent.

Sometimes these managerial responsibilities can appear intrusive or controlling to staff – particularly to those who are under-performing and require more supervision. It is only when a manager’s oversight or input is excessive or unnecessary that he/she can be reasonably termed a “micromanager.”

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