>Users:   login   |  register       > email     > people    

Micromangement - A view from the other side
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 07/30/2007

Foundations - Micromangement - A different view
by Joe Bouchard

There are very few who would argue in favor of the merits of micro-managing. Unnecessary and relentless attention to detail frustrates competent staff, provides fodder for division, and allows a foothold for manipulative prisoners. It is a nearly universal sentiment that micro-managing is absolutely wrong in all instances. In fact, there is a time and place for this style of management in corrections. And understanding the different kinds of micromanagers helps us to cope with their methods.

We can define micro-management as the act of unnecessarily controlling minute details and procedures. It is when staff gain a feeling of power by assigning too much significance to what is rather insignificant.(1)

There are certain words in the English language that suggest a similar feeling in almost everyone. In fact, some terms can evoke frantic physical reactions. Consider the short but powerful word ‘lice’. Invariably, when this word enters a conversation, we cannot help to feel phantom sensations all over our skulls.

Micro-managing is not all that different from this concept. When we think of someone focusing unnecessary and relentless attention to details, the thought of parasites sucking the life out of you is not far from the surface. We can easily envision a being that we simply cannot get out of our hair. Everyone considers micro-managers as very difficult to dispose of. Their persistence makes a mockery of any form of prevention.

Ironically, though, micro-managers, those who excel on focusing on the minutiae, are ideal agents in activities such as lice control. The terminology had migrated from the insect entities to micro-management. Consider the phrases nit-picking and going through with a fine tooth comb. Their thorough tenacity makes micro-managers the ideal candidates for tedious tasks. Therefore, unlike a lice infestation, micromanaging is not entirely a bad thing.

There are times in correction that we need to employ a methodical microscopic analysis. Here are some examples of where a micro-manager is useful.
  • During Audits – Typically, there is some trepidation and tension when ACA or Central Office is scheduled to conduct an audit in a facility. A special set of analytical eyes is helpful to meet the scrutiny from outside the facility.
  • For investigations – Things are not always as they initially appear. Can an investigation be truly complete until all stones are overturned? Micro-managers excel at this.
  • Trouble-shooting – Sometimes, our day-to-day facility problems seem intractably unsolved. However, the keen eye of a thorough employee can serve as a devil’s advocate. Micro-managers revel in looking at all angles of a problem.
  • Editing a document – Many of us value content over presentation and grammar. Yet, when committees submit reports to higher authorities, all ‘T’s” must be crossed and all “I’s” must be dotted. Otherwise, the report may be regarded as ill-prepared. The content is taken less seriously without a thorough edit.
  • Policy Audit – As times change, so do policies. And every year, key policies are audited. While the generalist may do an adequate job on this, the micro-manager is a good complement to the efforts of others.
It is important to note that not all micro-managers operate with the same motivations. In fact, there are at least four different types. They are Hierarchical Micro-manager, Trained Micro-manager, Natural Micro-manager, and Reactive Micro-manager.
  • Hierarchical Micro-manager – Has to answer to chain of command which is inclined to focus on small details. Since, the supervisor is a micro-manager, the subordinate is also expected to act that way.
  • Trained Micro-manager – The facility or agency has a cultural imperative for all to operate in this matter. An emphasis on the minutia is indoctrinated in each new manager through the local culture.
  • Natural Micro-manager – The staff member brought micro-managing skills with them to job. The Natural Micro-manager is most comfortable while adhering to strict attention to minute details.
  • Reactive Micro-manager – This person is not always in micro-management mode. In fact, this style is employed only when necessary. The Reactive Micro-manager tightens uses this style, for example, when an important investigation is happening in the facility.
There is an added layer to this. Each variety can be driven by one of three basic personality types:
  • Benevolent – This is someone whose actions are driven by compassion and kindness. They may, for example nit pick because it comes naturally to them. But they do so with your best interests in mind.
  • Malevolent - This is someone whose actions are driven by malice and meanness. They may, for example focus on the insignificant in reaction to their hierarchy’s culture. But they do so with the intent of frustrating others and causing harm.
  • Utilitarian – Function is the prime directive with the Utilitarian. Their decisions are based on the usefulness to the operation of the institution. For them, it is never anything personal: It is just business.
As an example, a Natural Micro-manager with benevolent inclinations will seem to be more understanding that a Natural Micro-manager with malevolent intentions. The former uses compassion to further motivate staff to focus on details. The latter typically employs demoralizing tactics for the same goal.

By understanding the motivations and basic personality types of each micro-manager, staff are better able to work well with them. Here are some general tips to mitigate the ill effects of micromanagement. It is the responsibility of the reader to assess each situation carefully before applying a possible remedy.
  • Tactfully ask colleague to assess your ability to make decisions;
  • Point out that you are capable;
  • Show the micro-manager that you have conceived several options to solve a problem. Present them and let her choose the best option. Be prepared to accept if colleague does not choose any of those options;
  • Always be honest when assessing your supervisor. This can be done with anonymous 360 surveys, suggestion boxes, or when asked directly for opinion. Remember that honesty does not mean malice;
  • Consider if there is there a cultural precedent. Is there a chain of micro-management? Can this culture be changed?
  • Are your peers treated in the same way as you? Find out if this is an isolated incident;
  • Look at yourself. Assess how others lead you. Does your lack of attention to details serve as a magnet for micro-management? (2)
Some concepts are instantly vilified. Rightly so, no one argues in favor of the common louse. However, most ideas have a positive side if we simply examine a bit more. Micro-managing, though frustrating to most people does have its place on occasion. And not all motivation are the same between micro-managers. Think how differently your facility would operate without some occasionally beneficial acts of warranted thoroughness.

Joe Bouchard is a librarian at Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility within the Michigan Department of Corrections. He is also a member of the Board of Experts for “The Corrections Professional” and an instructor of Corrections and Psychology for Gogebic Community College. He can be reached at (906) 353-7070 ext 1321. These are the opinions of Joe Bouchard, and not of the MIDOC or Corrections.com.

This article was reprinted with the permission of the Editor of The Correctional Trainer – the journal of the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel.

End Notes:
1 Bouchard, Joseph. "How Micromanaging affects operations in a facility." The Corrections Professional 11.7 (2005): 3.
2 Ibid.

Other articles by Joe Bouchard

Micromangement myths, 6/21/07

Custody awareness and corrections vitality, 5/20/07

We are who they say we are, 4/29/07

Coping with tragedy - lessons for corrections, 4/23/07

Building Empires: The rise and fall of cliques, 3/27/07

A horse sense of teamwork, 2/14/07


  1. alexjoseph19 on 04/15/2020:

    Infants up to 3 years are offered a separate safe play area just for them with padded crawl space and their own little features like soft construction materials plus baby slide and ball pit. Breakdown Recovery Manchester Car Recovery London Car Recovery Manchester Coach Hire Hull Minibus Hire Peterborough Hire Coach Hull Van Hire Carlisle Car Recovery Leeds Cheap Car Recovery Breakdown Recovery Birmingham Emergency Assist Breakdown Van Hire Peterborough Car Recovery East London Breakdown Recovery London Local Vehicle Recovery Vehicle Recovery Birmingham Airport Transfers Hull Vehicle Recovery Services Car Recovery Birmingham Coach Hire Carlisle Best Car Breakdown Service Airport Transfers Carlisle Best Roadside Recovery Airport Taxi Peterborough Nationwide Car Recovery Car Recovery Newcastle Local Breakdown Recovery Nationwide Car Breakdown Cheapest Roadside Recovery Local Breakdown Service Car Recovery Glasgow Car Breakdown Service Vehicle Collection And Delivery Emergency Car Recovery Airport Transfers Peterborough Airport Transfers Bradford Hire Minibus Carlisle Cheap Car Recovery Leeds Car Breakdown Recovery Breakdown Recovery Services Cheap Van Hire Hull Emergency Breakdown Service Recovery Truck Leeds Coach Hire Peterborough Car Recovery Edinburgh Breakdown Recovery Leeds Breakdown Recovery Newcastle Vehicle Recovery Newcastle Cheap Breakdown Recovery Breakdown Recovery Edinburgh Minibus Hire Carlisle Coach Hire Bradford Bradford To Manchester Airport Taxi Minibus Hire Hull Vehicle Recovery Leeds Minibus Hire Bradford Breakdown Recovery Glasgow Local Car Breakdown Recovery Airport Taxi Hull Hire Coach Peterborough Hire Coach Bradford

  2. jackman on 06/15/2019:

    Your content is nothing short of bright in many forms. I think this is friendly and eye-opening material. I have gotten so many ideas from your blog. Thank you so much. Drop shipping on Amazon

  3. Maryam Khatri on 01/01/2019:

    I am just willing a new offered. It really is amazing to find out most of the people explain in words through your heart let alone potential in that will simple theme place are likely to be pleasantly observed. thirukkadaiyur

  4. Maryam Khatri on 12/25/2018:

    To check out become in your blog nevertheless environment remedy obviously merely a small little submits. Reasonable way of possible long term, We're book-marking at a time safe types cease increases collectively. Hipod

  5. Basit Khatri on 10/31/2018:

    I really like your personal submit. It is excellent to find out an individual clarify within phrases within the middle in addition to lucidity relating to this important subject might be effortlessly observed. Capital Gains Tax Advice Accountants

Login to let us know what you think

User Name:   


Forgot password?

correctsource logo

Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of The Corrections Connection User Agreement
The Corrections Connection ©. Copyright 1996 - 2022 © . All Rights Reserved | 15 Mill Wharf Plaza Scituate Mass. 02066 (617) 471 4445 Fax: (617) 608 9015