Are you a micromanager that gets overly involved in the work
of the team? Or are you a laid-back project manager that assigns work and then lets team members work on their own? Of course, most project
managers fall between these two extremes. However, I believe both techniques
are very valuable when used in the appropriate situation.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be more of a
hands-off project manager. I like to give team members their assignments,
explain what needs to be done, and gain agreement on the due date. Then I let
the team work on its own to complete the work by the due date. My role is to
help with problems and questions. (Of course, I’m still doing all of the other
project management activities like managing scope, communication, and risk.)
Someone might look at the way I manage team members and think that I’m too
casual, but I think that mature, capable team members appreciate having the
flexibility to work on their own.

Of course, when I manage team members this way, the
assumption is that they’re getting their work done on time and with the right
level of quality. I’m also assuming that they will continue to complete the
assigned work on time. However, there are times when I have to manage in a much
more hands-on manner. In other words, I turn into the dreaded micromanager.
Here are the two reasons why I switch my management style:

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1. I need to be more
hands-on if a team member has shown me that he can’t meet the deadlines that he
has agreed to.

This isn’t the result of one missed deadline, but a pattern
of missed deadlines. So, I take more time to explain the work and to validate
that the team member understands the work and the due date. I ask him to provide
me with interim status updates, and I spend more time monitoring his work.
Unfortunately, the people that you manage more tightly rarely like the extra
attention. However, I feel like I have no choice if I want to ensure that the
work gets done on schedule.

2. I also may have to
be a micromanager when there’s a short-term work crunch,
and need to have more timely feedback on assigned work.

For example, it’s not uncommon for me to have status
meetings every day so I can monitor the work very closely. This is at the point
in a project when a one-day activity really needs to take one day. So again, in
my view, the work needs to be closely monitored and if that means people call
me a micromanager, then so be it.

So what does this all mean? I think the best project
managers are “situational managers.” This means that they manage
their team in the way that makes the most sense according to the circumstances
of the project. Sometimes this means managing at a high-level and giving the
team members a lot of freedom, and sometimes it means being a micromanager. I
think the best project managers can use both management styles effectively when
they match them to the appropriate situation .