When micromanaging is essential

When micromanaging is essential

By Elizabeth Tang

Strategic Marketing Specialist



Micromanagement involves a manager controlling every aspect of the workflow. Micromanagers want their employees to give regular updates on every detail of the project and discourage independent decision making from project members. 


No one likes to be micromanaged. When you’re on the receiving end of micromanagement, you don’t make decisions, you stress over the constant five minute updates to your supervisor and you have to deal with the overbearing presence of your supervisor. It’s not a pretty picture and it's certainly a situation all of us would like to avoid.  


But let’s seriously consider this question: is there a situation where micromanaging is essential? I mean, if no one likes to be micromanaged, wouldn’t our managers also not want to be micro-managers? It takes a lot of effort to monitor someone so closely, so there must be a compelling reason to warrant such supervision.  


As a fresh graduate, I find myself often under close supervision. When my supervisor delegates a task to me, I am given space to work on my own but I have to give regular updates on my progress every few hours. Sometimes, my supervisor may even be doing the task I was assigned to if my progress is not satisfactory. It frustrates me that everything I do comes under great scrutiny but after some serious reflection on my part, I found that this close monitoring has been essential in building my experience of working in an organisation.


If I was not under careful supervision, my many small mistakes would have disrupted processes in the workflow, creating much confusion with the parties involved. Being micromanaged also taught me how to have clarity in my projects as well as prioritising my tasks. There are benefits in this management style and it has helped my professional development.


However, close supervision in all my tasks is not beneficial for both my supervisor and myself in the long run. Here are some development points I’m working on to become a more independent worker:


  • Growing my competence level

I keep track of my competence level in each task and am always talking to my supervisor about my blind spots. I know if I continue to work on this, my supervisor will know that I am taking charge and being responsible for my learning and development, therefore building my own credibility in doing my job well.


  • Building my trust account

I consciously stop myself from the small acts that withdraw trust and work on the acts that build trust with my supervisor. Some of the acts that build trust include coming to work on time and updating my supervisor when I have completed their requests. Through these visible acts, I hope to instill more confidence in my supervisor that I am giving my best at work.  


  • Clarify the feedback received

I’ve made it a point to ask my supervisor for evidence that warranted the feedback. This gives me the opportunity to clarify and demonstrate how I work, showing my supervisor I know what I am doing and am not grasping at straws. 


My efforts have been acknowledged by my supervisor, and tasks that I’m now capable of handling independently have been assigned to me with only the occasional check-in. Close supervision has been essential in helping me grow to be an independent worker and I am motivated to continue to work on earning that independence everyday at work. 


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