Are You a Micro Manager, Macro Manager or Situational Manager?

Sunday, December 7, 2014, 7:00 AM | Leave Comment

One of the common responsibilities of all managers is the management of people and the management of work (if you don’t do either, you are not really a manager). All managers need to have timely, relevant and accurate information so that they can manage their people and work effectively.

The trick is to know how much information you need, and at what level.

Micro Manager, Macro Manager or Situational Manager

Here is the profile for three types of work managers. See if you fit one profile more closely.

  • Macro Manager

    Some project managers like to stay out of the details. They may be able to tell you whether the project is generally on schedule, but not what the project team members are working on at any given time.

    This manager assigns large chunks of work – maybe 4, 6, 8 weeks at a time. The manager than lets the team work out the details to complete the work on time.

    These project managers are like CEOs. They set general expectations and directions and let the team members handle the details. Sometimes this works fine.

    However, in some cases, the project manager can be seen as aloof and out of touch.

    Remember these managers are not actually CEOs. They just manage projects like they are a CEO.

    The problem is that sometimes these managers need to get engaged in the details of a project to determine what is going on, and they are not able to do it.

    Sometimes, they prefer to stick with the “big picture” even when the project is a mess.

  • Micro Manager

    On the other hand, you could be on top of people all the time – asking them how things are going, helping them resolve minor problems, assigning some of their work to someone else if it looks like they are a little behind.

    These project managers assign work in small chunks – maybe just a day at a time.

    They may also assign work that is two weeks, but ask for a status update every day or two.

    These managers actually spend so much time in the details that it takes them and their teams longer to get anything done.

    These managers also cause frustration on the part of team members because it seems they don’t trust the team to get anything done.

  • Situational Managers

    The middle ground is what I call the “situational manager”. This manager has the ability to manage in a more balanced manner.

    This manager assigns work in one to two week chunks, and checks on status weekly.

    This manager provides overall guidance and coaching to the team and tries to remove any roadblocks.

    They are comfortable to allow the teams to work on their own as long as the team shows they can manage themselves.

    During portions of the project they exhibit some of the qualities of the Macro Manager.

However when the project gets to a point where a lot needs to happen in a short amount of time, this manager can quickly move down to managing the details.

Many managers are afraid of being labeled a “micromanager” because of all the negative connotations.

However, there are times when you do need to assign work and get feedback on a very frequent basis.

For example, if you normally get weekly project updates from your team, you will find this insufficient if the project will end in the next week.

At that point you need more information and more frequently.

On the last week, perhaps you are getting daily updates.

This is a time you are micromanaging on purpose because the situation requires more frequent information.

Your team may call you a micromanager and that is okay. Tell them you agree, but that at this point in the project you need to be monitoring events more closely.

The situational manager understands when to manage at the macro level, and when to manage at the micro level. Your ability to do both may help you be more successful managing projects.

Does your team need additional training and coaching on how to manage schedules and staff?

Courtesy of…

This column is © copyright to and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.

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