Author and researcher Josh Kaufman writes in his book The Personal MBA
that, “Micromanagement isn’t simply annoying – it’s extremely inefficient.”
That’s because no set of instructions, no matter how detailed, can cover every contingency: “When something inevitably changes, micromanagement fails.”
Imagine you’re a CEO who insists on micromanaging your employees.
Think of how overwhelmed you would be.
The more people who work for you, the more directions you must give to keep everything on track.
As Kaufman puts it: “If you have ten employees, micromanagement is a hassle. If you have hundreds or thousands, it’s a nightmare.”
Kaufman suggests that a better management approach is “commander’s intent.”
Whenever you assign a task to someone, explain why it must be done. Communicating the intent behind your plans allows people you work with to intelligently respond to changes as they happen.
As Kaufman notes, commander’s intent comes from the military. For example, if a general tells a field commander exactly how to capture a hill and the situation changes, then the field commander has to return to the general for new orders.
This is slow and inefficient.
Now imagine that the general explains the strategy to the field commander, and why that particular hill is important and how taking it supports the overall strategy. The field commander can then use his or her knowledge of the goal and new information to act in a way that supports the original intent.