09 November 2023

Unfortunately, micromanagement is something that most working professionals will come across in their careers. With increasing economic pressure for companies to stay at the top of their game, it's not uncommon for managers feeling the pressure to over-involve themselves in team processes. This has led to business commentators asking whether we are too keen to call out mid-level managers who are themselves responding to imposed pressures from senior leadership teams.
Is there a more efficient way to challenge cultures that breed micromanagement, without targeting mid-level leadership professionals? Or is managing micromanagement a micromanagement in itself? Confused. You're not alone. Let's talk it through together.

The Micro in Management

Although we're confident that micromanagement needs no introduction for many people, it's important to clarify a common misconception. Recently, many have argued that the term "micromanagement" is now overused by disgruntled teams who have felt the impacts of helicopter-hovering managers who think KPI stands for Keep Pestering the Intern. This argument has the potential to be dismissive to the valid experiences of junior members of staff; it is not unknown that management also receive pressure from higher ups to perform, but using that pressure as an excuse for creating a toxic work environment patronises junior teams who merely wish to establish work patterns that ensure they are at their most productive.
The misconception here is that the identification of micromanagement attacks mid-level management teams who are just trying to do their jobs. To assume this is to assume that junior members of staff are altogether oblivious of the internal pressures placed upon management teams, either from decreasing client budgets or increasing internal targets. As search consultants, we are able to confirm that junior team members are keenly aware of the pressures across the business as a whole, and- even when describing incidents of micromanagement- are quick to caveat their qualms by noting that their managers are under an increased level of stress. This sense of miscommunication often trickles into a wider culture of blame, in which junior members of staff feel stifled and unable to perform at their best, and managers feel frustrated as their directions fall on deaf ears.

Shifting the Blame

Whilst micromanagement is often a dynamic seen in mid-level managers working with junior teams, it is clear that both levels feel the strain of the increased internal pressure. Clear communication is the cornerstone of a positive work environment, and as such a decline can lead to the erosion of working relationships, team collaboration and trust within an agency. In the business of healthcare communications, it seems ironic that so many agencies suffer at the hands of mid-level miscommunication. However, it seems as though shifting the blame between management and teams is a "get out of jail free" card for businesses that scapegoat agency-wide issues onto internal team dynamics.
In markets such as healthcare communications which are so easily impacted by external factors, the problems faced by an agency (be it reduced pharmaceutical spending, high staff turnover or budget cuts) can understandably bleed through and impact staff at all levels.

Can we manage micromanagement?

Transparency: Agencies should seek to foster a culture of transparency, particularly within smaller teams and agencies. If outside factors have changed the way you do things at a senior leadership level, then ensure that impact is fully articulated across all arms of the business. This can prevent tensions caused by changes to previously successful work styles and day plans being seen as "unjustifiable".
Consistency: Feedback is key to ensuring that junior team members know how to improve, and that managers can accurately chart the progression of their line managers. However, inconsistent feedback that is too greatly ruled by emotional responses can lead to a breakdown in communication. Whilst feeling stressed during periods of plateauing growth or profit is to be expected, it's important to think about how we respond to these changes when changes to work style, flow or pattern.

Feeling the impacts?

Whatever your experience, the team at CM Consulting are here to offer impartial advice to professionals who feel under increasing pressure and observation. Whether you're actively searching for your next opportunity or just keen to hear about the latest market trends, we're on hand with essential insights and advice.
To reach us, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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