But I am NOT a micromanager!

Here are some words of “wisdom” from an article in Forum magazine:

CEOs should delegate and should avoid micromanaging. But they should never fail to supervise. The buck stops with the CEO. They ultimately are responsible, not the person to whom a matter was delegated.

I certainly agree with the statements, but it makes a tough subject too easy, and seems to be a bit contradictory. When I’ve been with groups in the last several months I ask people in the group to raise their hand if they have ever had a boss that is a micromanager. Nearly all the hands go up. Then I ask how many people in the room ARE micromanaging bosses—a scant few brave souls raise their hands. It seems we have a world of people who feel micromanaged by a world of supervisors who don’t feel they are micromanagers!

So telling people not to micromanage doesn’t cut it, because most people feel they are doing a good job at that (even if they aren’t). And it’s that responsibility piece at the end that makes it tricky. Yes, the buck stops with the CEO, but if you obsess over that responsibility it becomes a burden, and then your definition of delegation begins to change. “Hey, it’s my neck on the line here, so maybe I’d better do that myself, or at least make sure it’s done right…” That can lead to micromanaging. It feels like responsible supervision, but it has the impact of micromanaging.


  1. 12.12.2006 at 9:10 am

    When I delegate, I purposely give both trust in their ability to do the job as well as a promise to help them succeed. I’ve found this is much more important than holding an accountability hammer over their heads. If they do a great job, great! If they encounter problems, they know they can come to me and we will work together to achieve success.
    This approach requires actually thinking about what you are delegating and to whom, though.

  2. 13.12.2006 at 9:25 am

    Amen! I just read a quote from Ed Schein about “participation”: “For many managers it means to give away some of their power to their employees, only to disocver that the employees then actually want to exercise power, something that the manager had not actually bargained for or expected.”