In today's business lingo, micromanagement has become synonymous with bad management. But before we delve into the details, we need to clearly understand what micromanagement is. Micromanagement is simply a management style in which a leader closely monitors her team.

Macromanagement, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Thus, if someone were to say all micromanagers are bad, it would be the equivalent of saying all southpaw boxers are bad.

This is a poor understanding of management, and it's embarrassing. It needs to stop. There are great micromanagers and poor micromanagers. Same goes for macromanagers.

To name a few exceptional micromanagers: Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, and Walt Disney. In fact, many of the business leaders who have shaped our modern business world are micromanagers.

In today's employee-friendly workplace, with unemployment rates at a record low and job-switching as common as ever, very few business leaders aspire or even admit to micromanagement.

I believe this should change. In my book, The Outlier Approach: How to Triumph in Your Career, I show how I leveraged micromanagement to push my company to unprecedented heights. My startup, Dealflicks, is a 'Priceline but for movie deals'--and in order to win business, the sales process required a tremendous amount of face time. Unless a potential theater partner met with us in person we seldom established any partnerships.

As the ultimate bootstrapping strategy, my team and I decided to live in a van and drive around the country to sign up as many theaters as possible. During this period, our sales team of up to five members and two vans covered over 200,000 miles and increased our partnerships from 50 to about 450 theaters.

On the outside, while it may seem like a young group of guys enjoying an urban camping trip, as the leader of the company, the management challenges were overwhelming:

  • How do I prevent sickness amongst teammates when they are cohabiting such a small space?
  • How do I ensure the safety of all my teammates?
  • How do I keep morale high at all times while keeping my team productive?

Given the nature of the challenges I had faced, I had to closely monitor all my teammates. From performance requirements to hit sales quotas to how the business expenses were spent to dieting and lifestyle habits. If one of us got sick, all of us got sick. I had no choice but to micromanage everyone's personal as well as professional life.

When a company is in a crisis, venturing into a new market, or when employees are inexperienced,  micromanagement can be the difference between success or failure. In my case, I had to deal with all three issues -- lack of funding, a new market, and staff that recently graduated college.

Personally, I don't enjoy micromanagement--but it became a management style I needed to depend on, and my team responded surprisingly well. The key to micromanagement success is to be transparent and allowing your team to support the idea.

Here are five tips to set your company for micromanagement success:

1. Be completely upfront.

When recruiting, I created a 20-page culture doc informing the potential employees on the details of my management style. You'd be surprised how many people are okay with micromanagement as long as you are transparent

2. Keep explaining why this approach is necessary.

No one enjoyed being told what to eat and when to use the restroom, but during this time, it was necessary. Keep reminding your team about the vision and why your management style makes sense. 

3. Always work harder than your team.

It's hard to get mad at a manager that is always outworking you. Don't be a contradiction by working less than your team.

4. Let your team keep you accountable.

Give teammates access to your daily activities. It has to be a two-way street. Always make your team micromanage you even more. Be in the trenches with them. Use this as fuel to push yourself higher.

5. Be prepared to be lonely.

Not many people will understand you, and you will often be criticized. Mentally be aware of this.

Sometimes, micromanagement is the only way to push the human potential to unprecedented heights. If done right, the feeling of unison within the team and the spiritual reward that one achieves from the experience cannot be placed in any monetary value. It can become a self-actualizing experience for the entire team.

This is something that very few business leaders understand or dare to even try. Perhaps that may be the reason why so many great business leaders have resorted to this management style.

Published on: Jan 31, 2018