Welcome to The Project Master Blog:

Be part of The Project Master community, as we explore different topics please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts.

« Back

Micro management & the blame game

I thought today, I would write about something that has a clear and damaging influence on any workforce, company or project and yet, is only ever noticed as a cause of problems, by the affected, never the instigator.

In my career I have worked as an employee, as self employed, both sole trader and business owner, as an employer and as a strange combination of all the above when acting as a Project Manager. So I am in a position of being able to see the relationship between each, from all perspectives.

As an employee, you need to be valued for your work and the contribution you make. If you are fortunate enough to work for a good boss, he will know your strengths ( and weaknesses ) and ensure you are engaged on tasks which are within your capabilities. That does not mean that you should not be stretched - most people give of their best when they are pushing at the edges of their comfort zone. You will be encouraged to strive and given the tools, support and motivation to do so. Crucially, you will also be given the space, freedom and authority to enable you to succeed. As you progress and become more proficient, a wise boss will ensure your responsibilities increase with your capabilities and will train or mentor your continued growth.

The opposite scenario is a daily nightmare. Unfortunately it is not uncommon, particularly with small businesses where there is just one owner. It is astonishing, the number of small businesses that are owned by people who may know everything there is to know about the business, yet nothing at all about how to run it.

This can occur when the owner has grown the business from perhaps a one man start up, to employing a few people and working alongside them, to the point where there are several employees and staff and the owner has become, by default, the Managing Director.

So we have a situation where the Managing Director has moved out of his comfort zone. He was great at working as a one man band, or with a couple of employees because he was doing what he knows best - actually doing the work. But as the business grew he moves from full time hands on, to MD without any training, without any mentoring, without any support. No wonder he is totally out of his depth!

When someone is out of their depth, they become insecure. Insecurity leads to fear and fear prevents rational decision making. An insecure director will not let people do their jobs - he will dictate how they should do them. He may put others in positions of responsibility, but will not let them take responsibility - always insisting that he knows best. He will not allow the middle managers to manage - believing they must be as insecure as he is, he will insist they get approval for all decisions before making them. Worse, because he is insecure, there will be no consistency. a decision made one day will be changed the next. And because he is insecure he will feel the need to micro manage every tiny detail.

This affects everyone. Micro management destroys creativity, inhibits managers and demotivates the entire workforce. It affects production and quality because a demoralised workforce will not be motivated to do a good job, which then leads to blame. Because the insecure MD cannot conceive that he could possibly be at fault, he will look for something or someone else to blame and that is contagious. Blaming people when things go wrong instead of encouraging them to look for ways to improve is a recipe for disaster. A company or business with an inherent blame culture will have a high staff turnover, poor employment record, and eventually a tarnished reputation within its industry. The poor quality and output which stems directly from the inherent culture within the business, will then lead to a shrinking order book as customers look elsewhere.

Of course, the insecure Managing Director will never understand why!


The Project Master