A reader's comment recently sparked consideration of when micromanagement is appropriate. I know many managers regard it as an automatic sin and yet those same managers will concede that their projects are often done in by details.
I like Thomas Leonard's recommendation of 50 - 48 - 2: That 50% of time be spent on the details, 48% on the system, and 2% on vision. It goes agains the usual leadership prescriptions, which place the leader on a mountain top pondering the next fifty years. Plenty of managers aren't suffering from a lack of vision. Their problem rests in implementation and that is where more engagement may be necessary. Micromanagement is appropriate when:
- It is an exception and not the rule.
- A system is not in place to address the issue.
- A system is in place but it would be senseless to follow the usual procedures.
- Management needs to send a message about priorities and urgency.
- Management needs to use its involvement as a form of training.
- After micromanagement is used, a Lessons Learned session is held to examine how similar matters in the future can be handled without the heavy involvement of the boss.