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In defense of micromanaging

October 1, 2010
by Bernie Reifkind
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It's no cliché that “when the cat's away, the mice will play.” It's human nature in the work environment to loosen up a bit when the boss is not around. To be fair, most employees do their job effectively whether or not the boss is around. Most people strive to do their very best at the task at hand.

So what happens when the task changes? What happens when the pressure sets in and deadlines are approaching? What happens during the rocky times that all businesses go through from time to time? Who is ultimately responsible?


Here is another cliché that is fitting and proper: “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” This is not to imply that one should not delegate. Being a successful manager or employer is all about delegating even the most important tasks. Having said that, an employer needs to keep a constant “finger on the pulse” and never let up even if you are getting complaints from whining employees about being micromanaged.

Micromanaging is a vital part of an employer's job. An employee's work environment is not a popularity contest. It's about successfully fulfilling the ongoing tasks at hand in the way in which you as the employer sees fit.

Some people work better if they are micromanaged and are held accountable all day long. Others do not need as much hand-holding but nonetheless, micromanaging assures you that a job is getting done the way that you want it done.

You'll know if you need to back off if you are putting too much pressure on an employee-the employee will tell you-and then back off, but just a bit.

Too bad if micromanaging is insulting to an employee's self-esteem. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

In summary, never feel the need to justify your micromanagement style. If you are the boss or a business owner then you risk the most. You have to micromanage to ensure success.

What are the ramifications of not micromanaging and constantly holding people accountable? Why find out?

Bernie Reifkind is CEO and founder of Premier Search (, a healthcare executive search firm in Los Angeles. He can be reached by e-mail at or (800) 801-1400. Long-Term Living 2010 October;59(10):21