It’s an expensive fix for when trust breaks down. Expensive resources now fill their time with the same activities meant to be done by their direct reports. It’s also a symptom of a bigger problem for which this fix is only temporary and not very effective.

When trust breaks down, we need to limit the exposure. Micromanagement does this. It’s a disaster response function. Interim task team to find the problem and fix it. Usually, this boils down to one of the following:

  • Incorrect job spec. Employees fail at their role because it is ill-defined. You are unlikely to meet expectations you don’t know about.
  • Incorrect candidate. When the recruitment process does not effectively screen out unsuitable candidates. The Peter principle applies. People are promoted into incompetence.
  • Character flaws. These are hard to spot up front. We hire for competence and fire for character. If the candidate does not falter because of systemic failures (above) but because they are not trustworthy micromanagement becomes corrective.
  • Poor Management. All three of the above also apply to the leader that is micromanaging. Except that this leader also owns the responsibility to ensure none of the other three causes are allowed by systemic shortcomings.

These causes are hard to identify and take significant effort to fix. We tend to micromanage instead. It’s easier to take back control than to trust others with it.

We should be creating frameworks within which people can thrive.

Easy is not the most important criteria.


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