As a manager, you have surely heard about micromanagement and the damages it can cause to a team dynamic and manager-employee relationships. You have most certainly chosen macromanagement as an effective managerial posture, and for good reason.

However, with recent profound organizational changes such as the rapid growth of remote work, our managerial practices might need a little freshen up. Has macromanagement gone too far, and how can managers find the right balance to adapt to unpredictable contexts and evolving situations?

Quick definition of micro and macro management

You might have heard about the effects of micromanagement and the potential setbacks it can create among a team. This management style consists of the supervisor’s full control over the tasks and operations assigned to employees. It allows for a strong sense of control and order, which might sound fine and dandy if you simply want to achieve business goals while keeping an attentive eye on the entire team’s productivity and performance. 

Unfortunately, micromanagement is also known to create anxiety in the workplace, often resulting in unmotivated staff, increased turnover, and a lack of meaningful relationships between supervisors and employees.

With this managerial method, employees tend to feel at best coddled, at worst mistrusted by their manager. In terms of human results, micromanagement might therefore not be the wisest attitude to have.

Macromanagement, on the other hand, is centred on trustworthy relationships between managers and their teams. A pressure-free management style, it implies less intervention from the supervisor and more empowerment for employees, who are given the freedom to achieve their tasks and goals as they please. Consequently, this approach creates less anxiety for the staff, but they might also feel less supervised and therefore less supported in the long run.

Although macromanagement has its cons, it has been widely picked as the better outlook for a productive managerial future and better workplace relationships. But as the COVID-19 pandemic is redefining our organizational practices and rushes the expansion of remote work, one might wonder if macromanagement is still indisputably the answer to all managerial ills.

What is hyper-macromanagement?

“By focusing on giving employees latitude and autonomy, some managers forget to respond to other essential needs for an effective mobilization of their workforce, such as taking the time to express support and recognition. Managers are afraid to interfere and consequently being perceived as micromanaging. Recognition of an employee’s good work is crucial and you should value the efforts they made to achieve their goals. Managers must stay involved in their team’s process and set up effective communication with their employees.” – Emilie Charbonneau, Human Resources Consultant at Go RH

Now that we’ve seen what macromanagement is about and identified its undeniable advantages, it is time to talk about the negative effects it can have depending on the context.

So what exactly is hyper-macromanagement? Simply put, it is macromanagement taken too far. This approach is characterized by a slackening grip on managerial responsibilities. For fear of being perceived as micromanaging, the manager becomes less and less present. They give up on their role as a team support and completely abandon monitoring and communication practices.

Consequently, employees are less engaged and lack the motivation to reach their objectives. They might do the bare minimum just like hyper-macromanagers because they are left to their own devices

These issues of hyper-macromanagement are prevalent in contexts of remote work, as distance makes it easier to forgo usual meetings and follow-up discussions. However, useful managerial practices such as weekly meetings and performance reviews should not disappear because of distance.

All in all, you have to be involved if you want to keep your team engaged. Macromanagement should not imply the neglect of your responsibilities as a manager.

Therefore, it is important to think about how remote work has affected managerial practices and which of these practices should be restored to ensure good remote management.

Tips to be a good (remote) manager

Although remote work comes with unique challenges, the following tips are perfectly applicable  and strongly recommended! to office work or hybrid models. With a few minor adjustments, they can adapt to any context, so feel free to use them without moderation!

  • Support and Trust

As previously mentioned, macromanagement promotes trusting employees and leaves them room to work as they please. This relationship of trust is essential to be a good manager.

However, even if they are free to achieve their goals as they see fit, remote employees should feel comfortable reaching out to their supervisors if they need help. Autonomy should not merely be given but supported by managers.

The employee also has to feel that they can trust their manager, who has to be ready to help when they need professional or even personal support.

  • Be Fair and Empower

Impartiality is critical to good management: employees must know that they are treated fairly in their professional lives. They must be on equal footing with their colleagues, and managers need to protect and ensure equality in the workplace.

The same concern for fairness should motivate a wish to empower employees so that they are all on equal grounds. To ensure happiness at work, employees must feel free to act independently without always asking for permission first. With the right attitude, you will undoubtedly increase your employees’ engagement and productivity!

  • Acknowledge and Reward

Take time to acknowledge your employees’ achievements. They must feel like their efforts are seen and rewarded, whether monetarily or not. Examples of employee acknowledgement and appreciation are as simple as congratulatory messages or ‘good job’ mentions on social media or company channels. Saying ‘thanks’ or ‘well done’ never hurts, and it goes a long way in increasing employee engagement. Never forget that a happy workforce is crucial to business success!

  • Listen and Analyze

A good manager must be a good listener. Hearing your employees and taking into account what they have to say is key to obtaining a good analysis of your team’s engagement and productivity. To do so, you might want to use the appropriate tools and strategies. They are sure to improve your management practices!

Improve your management with the right tools and strategies

Communication tools and software are essential for effective communication. They should be widely implemented in your company and among your remote team: it is of great importance to maintain contact on a regular basis to ensure efficient management of employees. But there are other tools that remote managers should use to improve their practices and strategies.

Indeed, whether your team works remotely or in the office, you need to use the right tools to ensure efficient daily management. Moreover, they are essential to build your managerial strategy, as they offer you both reliable analysis and statistical support to your action plans.

Here are essential tools that will help you identify pain points and act accordingly:

  • Career and performance trackers

Remote work comes with many challenges, one of them being reassuring remote employees about some of their growing fears. A predominant issue is a concern that their career is going to stall with distant work. Their professional life seems to stagnate with the spread of telecommuting. 

Yet, simply maintaining relevant managerial practices helps overcome these major challenges. By carrying on performance reviews, you can keep track of your remote employees’ progression and engagement. These appraisals are crucial to career development: performance data will help you discuss professional advancement with your employees. Moreover, performance reviews are easy to set up remotely: as we now know by experience, virtual meetings and follow-up feedback can be perfectly organized out of the office.

As for career management, it should definitely not be put on the back burner because of telecommuting situations. Your remote employees should not suffer from their status. It is up to you to ensure that they are given the same chances as office workers.

Career development tools are at your disposal to help you make sure that professional growth remains a top priority in your managerial practices.

  • Give relevant feedback

As we have seen, performance management should remain an integral part of your managerial practices. Continuous feedback does not imply micromanagement

Performance reviews, when used wisely, remain the most effective way to support your employees and share relevant feedback to help their individual progression and eventually the productivity of your entire workforce.

Don’t give up on performance reviews, and make sure to provide relevant feedback to your remote team to avoid any decrease in employee motivation and ensure efficient remote management! 

  • Ask for feedback in return

If you fear that remote work might decrease the quality of your exchanges with employees, an excellent way to reconnect while solving potential issues is implementing frequent surveys in your organization. Involve your remote employees and ask for their feedback: they will notice that you care about their opinions and have valuable comments and ideas to help you improve your remote practices.

Engagement surveys are particularly relevant for remote workers although useful in all contexts as you might feel less inclined to ask your employees tricky questions on motivation and career growth from a distance.

Employee feedback is crucial to improving your managerial strategy according to specific challenges in your team and throughout the whole company. With the right surveying tools, your efficiency will increase tenfold!

Most of these software solutions can be implemented easily in your organization thanks to HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems). These pieces of software are developed to simplify and improve human resources management. Dematerialization, time-saving and better vision of employee productivity and engagement are a few examples of the many benefits of implementing an HRIS in your company. Particularly relevant in contexts of remote work, HR software solutions are sure to perfect your management practices!

Find balance and be ready to adapt

It is crucial to differentiate between meddling and supportive stances. Enquiries about your employees’ progress and state of mind do not necessarily infer micromanagement, and being a macromanager should not mean leaving your team to its own devices.  

What matters the most is finding a balance between these two approaches to ensure smooth operation in your company. Be ready to adapt to constantly evolving contexts: an employee’s path is not necessarily linear, and you might find out that their professional needs vary depending on numerous factors.

With our helpful tips, and by using the right tools, you will be able to identify issues as they arise and build your strategies accordingly. No managerial situation is insurmountable if you find balance and adapt to potential changes. The current context has proved that resilience is an integral part of good leadership and that taking into account individual human contexts is vital to achieve business goals. 

By Morgane Lança, Content Manager at Folks