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The Micromanager Essay

1. Is George guilty of micromanaging? Why/why not?

Yes, George is guilty of micromanagement. Micromanagement is a management style where a manager closely observes and controls the work of subordinates. This case provides many examples of how George micromanages Shelley and her staff. One example involving micromanagement is when George joined a conversation with Shelly and her staff and underlined what is important for the company and what he wants them to do. Another example is when George saw Shelley in the hallway and looked at her notes about press release. He didn’t like the attitude of the title so he made it clear that he wants her to change it. Shelley also thinks that her boss, George, is micromanaging her work. Shelley complained to Laura, her friend, that George “was in her face”. When George asked her for a meeting, she commented: “What’s he going to have a problem with this time?” During the meeting Shelley even told George: “I really don’t do very well if I feel like someone’s micromanaging me”. Shelley is not the only one who has this opinion.

Rich Hannon, Retronics’s project manager, also commented on George’s involving style: “Hands-on isn’t the beginning of it” and continued “He’s elbow deep in the stuff”. George doesn’t only implement micromanagement style at work but also at home. George observes every single detail around him and wants to control the situation. He once saw that his three years old son wanted to pore himself a glass of milk from a full carton. Right away, George filled a plastic cup with milk and placed it next to his son. George also wants to control the order of his family’s activities: “Eat your dinner and then you can finish up the homework” he said. These are only a few examples of George’s micromanagement style.

2. What influence tactic(s) and/or base(s) of power does George use with Shelley… George uses mix of expert and legitimate power. Expert power is an example of personal power; the power based on charisma and interpersonal skills. Expert power is the ability to influence others based on his/her own expertise, special skills and knowledge. In this case study George is described as “a seasoned executive with impressive engineering credentials and significant experience in enterprise-scale systems and operations”. George is also using legitimate power, power based on individual authority in the organization, to control those who are lower in the organization’s hierarchy. George shows his disapprobation when Shelley didn’t make the suggested changes: “I asked you to work on the tone of this yesterday, did I not?” Another time when George used legitimate power was when he insisted on issuing at least two press releases each month even though “there wasn’t any real news to report”. George also uses mix of rational persuasion and legitimate tactic to influence Shelley. George presents logical arguments and supporting evidence to show reasonability of request (rational persuasion tactic) and also relies on his authority position, as the CEO of Retronics, to establish the acceptance of request.

The conversation in the company’s hallway illustrates using both tactics. George, after looking at Shelley’s notes, suggested stronger title attitude and explained that it could bring bigger press exposure. At the same time he sounded very persuasive saying: “I’d really like to see this copy do two things: one, emphasize the innovation and, two, exude confidence”. The next day, when Shelley didn’t make the suggested changes and also didn’t proofread the press release, George strongly commented: “Look, I count on you to get these things right. I don’t have time to worry about them myself”. Shelley’s reaction on these tactics was not positive. She felt “disgusted and depressed”. After George’s comments about her mistakes and not complying with his suggestions, Shelly left out the meeting. She also wanted to call in sick to avoid confrontation with George. George’s tactics did not help creating trust in Shelley’s work. He didn’t trust Shelley’s judgment. George talked to her staff, telling them what he thought is important.

3. Using your knowledge of the “full-range of leadership” model presented in class… Using “full-range of leadership” model, George is being transactional leader who uses Management – By – Exception style. According to NebGuide, a leader under Management – By – Exception style sets standards, takes corrective actions, and stresses what subordinates are doing wrong. The followers only hear from the leader when something is going wrong. The case provides many examples confirming George’s Management – By – Exception style. George believes that Shelley is quite new to the company. It is necessary for him to bring her up to date.

Therefore, he monitors Shelley’s performance and forces her to change her work into his style. George corrected Shelley’s press release reports: “He’d crossed out some sentences and inserted new ones”. George had a hard time holding his temper when Shelley didn’t make changes in the press release title although he made specific suggestions. He also made a comment about two typos in the final report. Shelley is stressed about George’s management style to the level that when George wanted to have meeting with her, she made a comment: “What’s he going to have a problem with this time?”.

4. Using your knowledge of the “situational leadership” model presented in class… Under the “situational leadership” model, George uses selling style. George perceives Shelley as a person with some competence but a low level of commitment. George describes Shelley as “increasingly disengaged – not as hungry to learn as she’d seemed at first”. Besides, he thinks that Shelley needs directions and close supervision because she is still relatively inexperienced. Retronics is a software company and Shelley doesn’t know a lot about software engineering. However, George, as an effective selling style leader, wants to give Shelley support, explains his decisions, gives a constructive feedback and supports learning process. George gave Shelley explanatory suggestions about press release title. Knowing that Shelley doesn’t like to be criticized, he wanted to build Shelley’s confidence saying: “You’re the best”. George also wants to build Shelley’s involvement in decision-making “I would dearly love to take my eye off one of them and feel it was being well managed”. On the beginning Shelley’s follower readiness level was high.

She felt strong in both, competence and commitment. In her opinion she was ready and willing to work by herself with little supervision. During the meeting with George, Shelley described herself as “pretty smart, talented person who knows (her) job and who has a lot to contribute”. She also sees herself as a person who brings great working results and whose judgment is trusted. Although Shelley doesn’t have experience in software engineering, she was hired as a marketing director, where she has knowledge and experience. When Shelley was hired, her impression from the conversation with George was that she would be able to do “creative things”. After couple of months of constant George’s supervision Shelley’s level of readiness changed. She still felt competent to do the job but her level of motivation fell. Over the conversation with Laura, Shelley’s friend, she said: “I don’t know the business as he does, but he should give me credit for being the better marketer.”

But as cited above, Shelley’s motivation fell, she was “not as hungry to learn as she’d seemed at first”. George’s type of leader behavior was not appropriate for Shelley’s readiness level. George should have used empowerment model, where level of competence and commitment is high. George, as a good leader, should provide Shelley with clear objectives, set the goals and boundaries and allow Shelley to work by herself.

5. The company in this case is not meeting its goals regarding visibility, leads, … To lead more effectively George needs to make a couple of changes in his leading approach. First of all, George needs to stop micromanaging Shelley and other coworkers and learn how to apply true managing skills to boost Retronics’s revenue. As a CEO, George spends too much time on editing Shelley and subordinates’ work.

Second of all, George should pick appropriate managing style that fits particular employees. He could ask his staff for direct feedback. Ask questions about employees needs, what motivates them, what they would like to change, what are their ideas, and after that try to choose the most appropriate leading style. In Shelley’s case, George needs to give her more autonomy that let her finish tasks independently. Also, George needs to start trusting Shelley and empower her so she can do the job on her own. By applying the delegating style towards Shelley, George will motivate her to work harder. In this way Shelley could also get more opportunities to show her work quality and potential capability.

Third of all, George needs to identify larger issues disturbing marketing department rather than focusing on the press release. George should ensure Shelley that he counts on her with improving marketing department, identify objectives and time frame to accomplish the tasks, and coach her and ultimately evaluate her work. If the new approach would work, George should keep Shelley and show her appropriate recognition, if not, George should replace Shelley with better fit for the position.

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