The Dick Spencer case study contains multiple management issues but perhaps the most glaring problem is Dick’s micromanagement approach. This leadership style appears to be having a very negative impact on employee morale. Additionally, Dick’s approach seems to be perpetuating resistance to desired organizational changes. These three problems are not new to organizations, and a great deal of published literature exists that defines, describes and suggests recommendations to help overcome these issues. Some research data echoes other’s findings but others hold interesting points of view, especially with regard to micromanagement. MICROMANAGEMENT
Micromanagement has been defined and described in many ways. In the most simplistic form micromanagement may be viewed as a basic lack of trust (Ward, 2003). Another view explains micromanagement as “an affliction of small-minded, task oriented, visionless leaders (Hanft, 2004).” Others depict micromanagers as “the ones who tell you not only why things need to be done (vision) and what needs to be done (mission), but also the who, how, when and where (Weyande, 1996).” Very often specific behaviors are associated with micromanagers, to including reluctance to delegate, self-insertion into others’ projects, and discouragement of decision-making without leadership consultation. Harry Chambers, author of My Way or the Highway, identified five specific behaviors. According to Chambers (2006), micromanagers like to exercise power and authority, control others’ time, want work to be done their way, allow no one to move forward without approval, and often demand frequent status reports. These behaviors have been likened to symptoms of a disease which can be identified and explained.
Some micromanagers defend their behavior based on the belief that they are merely using efficient and necessary oversight that is indispensible for tasks to be accomplished correctly and on time (Presutti, 2006). Others go as far as stating that micromanagers actually save time and money (Weyande, 1996). Meetings to discuss options and suggestions are eliminated because the manager decides what to do. Employee training is reduced because the manager knows how to do everything the correct way. This may indeed be tongue in cheek for most, but for others may be a perception of reality and is just one symptom of the micromanagement disease. Dr. Richard White, a professor at Louisiana State University, described other symptoms that indicate “where good detail management ends and loathsome micromanagement begins (White, 2010).” These symptoms include being obsessed with meaningless details and setting deadlines for deadlines’ sake. Dr. White goes on to state: “At its more severe level, micromanagement is a compulsive, behavioral disorder similar to other addictive patterns…..micromanagers learn to like to control others (White, 2010).” These symptoms can be viewed as warning signs but recognition of the symptoms may occur too late as the negative effects may have already impacted the organization.
Micromanagement can do a great deal of damage to an organization by adversely affecting initiative, productivity, morale and teamwork. Employees feel they do not have any control over their tasks and soon lose motivation. This, in turn, erodes any initiative, as employees will do only what is asked by completing just the assigned work. The lack of delegation combined with the loss of initiative results in employees standing idle awaiting direction. Employees may also lose self-confidence after repeatedly being directed on what and how to perform tasks (Presutti, 2006). Any team autonomy is degraded to the point of nonexistence and teamwork almost completely halts. Employees will usually perceive their relationship with a micromanager as mistrusting, stressful and even adversarial which dampens morale (Presutti, 2006). Ultimately, productivity pays the price and the organization goes...
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