“Micromanaging” is not the dirty word you think it is.
A whole generation of workers has been brainwashed to think that ALL micromanagement is bad. But is it really?
You have to ask yourself: if micro-management is always bad, does that mean “macro-management” is always good?
If you get your management advice from Twitter threads and Linkedin posts, the following sentences are a thoughtcrime:
You need to learn to be a micromanager. Sometimes, your team needs you to micro-manage them, and you are failing as a leader when you do not recognize this.
Here a few times when I’ve directly observed the positive outcomes of appropriate micromanaging:
A sales rep that needs a ton of coaching.
You get a new sales rep on your team. They're smart and motivated. But they're struggling; they're coming from a different industry and the go-to-market is just different enough that they don't have their bearings and missing targets.
Enter the micromanager: they listen to the sales rep's calls, they shadow the sales rep on live calls, require them to attend the calls of successful teammates and then do a debrief at the end of every day.
The sales rep, who was on a PIP, ends up becoming one of the team's top performers.
An external event forces you to rewrite your entire marketing playbook ASAP
At HubSpot, we planned most of our upcoming year in Q4, anointing it and announcing it internally in the following Q1. This works perfectly well in most years, and teams can execute autonomously once given this direction.
Then you have a month like March 2020.
Executive leadership told everyone to drop what they were doing, and micromanaged the hell out of anyone putting out any sort of public messaging. If you were running a webinar, if you were running any sort of ad campaign – it needed signoff from at least 1 VP.
HubSpot was publicly praised for its pandemic "campaign" and become one of the "success stories" of the great Covid tech boom.
A PR crisis.
A journalist publishes something about you, and your CEO & your comms team needs to respond in 6 hours.
This is a situation where someone needs to be orchestrating a team in 10-minute blocks, and everyone is working in the same room. I've only been in this situation once, but I was extremely grateful that there was someone on the leadership team who took control and gave everyone a tasklist and a time limit for every task.
The result was the PR crisis was averted, the journalist was satisfied with our response, and the brand did not take any damage since we sucked out all the oxygen before it spread any further.
Micromanagement is a skill to be deployed at the right time
These were times where “macro-management” -- giving people autonomy, not looking over their shoulder, and letting them figure it out on their own -- would have directly led to disaster.
Don’t fall for cartoons on telling you that only evil bosses micromanage.
It's a skill. It's a tool. There's a right place and a right time. Don't use it in every situation. But don't be shy to use it.