A micromanager can cause fear and panic in even the most seasoned professionals.
While I don't have the statistics to back this up, I think most would agree that having a manager who micromanages every task is something to avoid. Before we get into exactly what a micromanager does, let's find out what micromanaging actually means.
The term, "micromanager" refers to a management style where special attention is paid to even the smallest details of a task. A micromanager can also be viewed as controlling every aspect of their employees' jobs, leaving no chance for creativity, out-of the box-thinking or new ideas.
The Devil Is in the Details
This may be true, but always asking for a detailed account of a project rather than a quick summary can be a waste of time for everyone involved. Managers often ask for updates on a project to make sure that it's coming in on time and within budget, but generally there is no need to check on every single detail.
Purposely withholding key information from subordinates can make a manager feel more in control of what's going on, but can also hinder the productivity of their employees. It's often an inefficient, inappropriate way to deal with issues.
What to Do - Not How to Do It
Often, micromanagers not only tell their staff what to do but also how to do it. Again, this hinders creativity and can ruin employee morale. It can also be a control tactic to look more productive to their superiors.
Taking Back Assigned Tasks
Some micromanagers may take back tasks that were originally assigned to their team, thinking that they can do the tasks quicker and better. This can reduce development and learning opportunities for their team, and can also decrease morale.
Mother May I?
Requiring team members to constantly ask permission for even the most trivial matters may be a sign of micromanaging. It also inhibits workflow progress and can impact important deadlines. Asking for permission also hinders the team members' ability to make decisions on their own regarding a task, a project, or an issue.
Instead of empowering, trusting, inspiring and challenging others, micromanagers over-control and cause much damage [PDF].
Micromanagers often feel that their way is the best way. This may work to their advantage in the short term, but down the road, it can impact the micromanager's (and their team's) productivity and the time they should be spending looking at the bigger, more strategic picture.