Micromanagement Versus Empowerment

By Eric Dickmann

April 23, 2019

Empowerment, Micromanagement

There’s a battle between micromanagement versus empowerment. Micromanagement is dead, and empowerment is on the rise! Managers need to stop bossing and start empowering their people. Empowered employees are more engaged and vested in the success of a business. To get the best results, organizational culture must evolve. It should be one of shared accountability, not excessive management control.

What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is to control every part of a business or activity. It is excessive authority and attention to detail. A micromanager observes and controls everything an employee does. It often comes from a lack of trust or feeling that “they know best.” It’s the opposite of empowerment and autonomy.

Often times, micromanagement stems from a lack of trust. It may have rooted in past experiences. Other times, a manager may feel the employee is incapable. That he cannot work alone to achieve the desired outcome. It may be due to a lack of training or differences of opinion on the desired outcome. In the worst cases, it’s the result of ego. There’s a feeling that one person is superior and that other ideas or ways of working are inferior to their own.

What is Empowerment?

The Balance Career defined empowerment as enabling an individual to control work. It is authorizing them to make decisions about how to perform their work. It helps them discover their true potentials and be accountable for their actions. Empowerment is trust and a reliance on the skills and abilities of an employee to complete their work as expected.

Employees who can make job decisions can solve problems better. They can move faster from task to task because they don’t need to wait for a manager’s direction or approval. Likewise, they feel more trusted, which in turn, boosts their morale.

Micromanagement

Impact of Micromanagement Versus Empowerment

A business needs control because every decision comes with some risk. But managers need to trust employees. They need to make them feel valued at work if they hope to create a thriving organizational culture. Let us compare to understand the need to micromanage versus empower:

Impact on Organizational Culture.

Trust is essential to organizational culture. Micromanagement kills ownership and promotes a lack of trust. In contrast, empowerment cultivates a culture of trust. It energizes initiative within a company’s culture.

Impact on People.

Control is imperative when a leader needs to deal with poor performance. Watching and directing an individual can help improve their performance. But that should be a short-term problem. If employees can’t perform at a level needed to give them autonomy, they might not be a fit for the company. Empowerment has a positive impact on motivation, and motivation leads to better performance.

Impact on Process.

There are times when it makes sense to get involved with processes. Micromanage critical tasks to ensure things go according to plan. Sometimes, serious issues arise which need a hands-on approach by managers. Employees making their own decisions can optimize the way they perform their jobs. They create more efficient processes. Empowerment fosters initiative and innovation.

Impact on Product.

A micromanager has clear-cut ideas on the best way to create a product or service. It can exclude other employees from contributing ideas and stifle innovation. Employee independence increases creativity and results in a more innovative collaboration of ideas.

Impact on Profit.

Scrutiny and close examination of a subordinate’s work is costly. Micromanagement means that managers are focusing their efforts on someone else’s job. Managers should seek to remove obstacles to employee productivity, not create them. Increase employee turnover also affects the profit of a business. When employees feel micromanaged, it hurts their engagement. There’s a likelihood that they will become dissatisfied and leave the company.

Conclusion

In today’s organizations, empowered employees can give companies an edge. Management control is still needed. But hiring good people and letting them do their jobs is important. It builds a thriving organizational culture. Leaders can have strong ideas and opinions. They set the direction of the organization. But their efforts are best focused on strategy. Make sure to empower employees in executing strategic plans. Hiring the right people and trust them to do their jobs. It will allow for scale that’s not possible when leaders feel the need to micromanage.

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the founder of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast - The Virtual CMO, and a CMO On Demand for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies and bring innovative products to the market.

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