Managing In Micro

“I’ll rephrase the question.”

I’d strongly suggest that.

“Sir, is there really any loss of control if you were to create a climate of trust in your organization so that staff felt free to express ideas, take ownership of concepts, seek cooperation and appreciation instead of mere approval all the time? Couldn’t you maintain that ever-important control by guarding the final gate instead of applying a governor throttle to everything that impedes ideas and creativity?”

Mr. Ciancutti, I think you need to be reeled in a bit. I have been given a job and that job asks me to guide this department with what I envision as important. I have to tell people what to do to get them to provide what I’ve been asked to create.

“Do you see any merit in fostering an environment where people could freely give input and help you reach your goals by representing something other than your one opinion?”

I’m sorry young man I wasn’t listening. What did you say?

“No further questions, your honor.”


Mr. Ciancutti leaves the courtroom and walks through the doors into the lobby. As he approaches the elevator he hears a noise. “Psssst.”

He looks left and right and then suddenly behind him.

A man in a hat and trench coat is waving to him from the shadows.

Ciancutti approaches cautiously, “May I help you?”

From behind his sunglasses the man whispers, “I… uh… I’m one of them.”

“One of what?”

“The uh –- you know… micro… guy you were talking about.”

“Oh, I see. Well what do you want with me?”

“Yeah well, I uh… how do I stop being this way? I mean I know nothing good is coming of it but the pressures on me are terrific and if I lose control by letting people think for themselves or contribute haphazardly I… I… Do you have any suggestions?”

Yeah. I do. I think the answers for micromanagers are pretty simple really. The main problem that contributes to the need for micromanagement is the pressure of deadlines and budgets.

A person that has to “get it done” can’t afford the luxury of standing around talking about it. Although good clock management gives an effective manager the time to garner input and work suggestions in, this very premise would not take special effort if it was part of the daily routine; part of the standard way to do business.

Ever watch some football teams blow the game in the last minute as they frantically scurry down the field trying to get a game-tying field goal? You think any of those guys have time to ask anybody’s opinion? You think any of the players know the format to offer their opinion?

Yet, coaches that practice a two-minute drill over and over get all kinds of contributions from the players on the field. They have the time to consider it and listen. They can usually execute that last-minute score and make it look like a matter of habit. Effective managers have the same opportunity and obligation.

If the environment is open and listening and the format is in place for contributing, the micromanager will hear the suggestions and debate the points long before the deadline is breathing down on him/her. In that atmosphere employee opinion can be expressed, manager agreement or disagreement can be understood and the need to micromanage will be minimized.

It takes commitment on both sides. It takes respect on both sides. If the manager creates an environment of trust, the employee will make useful contributions and not impede progress with personal priorities or obstacles to completion. This relationship can only grow richer with time.

It’s really about empowering staff to make decisions. If someone is asked to complete a task, then all hell breaks loose at the last minute because the manager decided to change everything, down to the last dot, it creates that deadly complacent atmosphere.

The micromanager who wants to be the humanistic manager has only to make a conscious choice of building an environment based on mutual trust. And isn’t that what they’re really hired to do?

Ronald D. Ciancutti is the purchasing manager for Cleveland Metroparks. Ron can be reached at Ron will be giving presentations on Purchasing, Ins & Outs, Tips & Tricks and Developing & Building Relationships in Your Community at LIVE! 06 at Deer Creek Resort & Conference Center, near Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 19-20.

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