How to Effectively Manage a Distributed Team
Blog | 06.26.2012

Micro-Management Versus Macro-Management For Managers

The relative effectiveness of micro-management and macro-management depends on many factors such as nature of work, maturity of team members, the complexity of the project relative to experience level of the team and so on. The challenge is for managers to recognize what is appropriate for the team or individual members, and use the correct approach.

Even when micro-management is necessary, the long term objective should be to slowly make people and the team more independent. The hallmark of a leader is that s/he builds the next level of leaders, and that can only happen through empowerment.

For instance, in a project that is starting with a relatively inexperienced team, involving a different domain, and with relatively new technologies, it is but natural that the experienced members will have to closely monitor the initial work. Gradually, through a mix of training, collaborative learning, and establishment of best practices, team members begin to more things on their own. Most employees prefer to be treated with professional respect, and given independence to achieve their goals with just the right amount of guidance.

Problems arise when an obsessive manager closely controls employee activities, and does not know how to gradually let them self-manage their work. This impacts the team morale and eventually their work output. The manager too loses out since s/he is excessively focused on work details and schedules, and does not have the time for strategy and planning. Eventually the project and the company are impacted negatively.

Macro management is not about laissez-faire and allowing people to do whatever they want. It is about setting the ground rules for results, empowering people, letting them do their jobs, guiding them as required, and tracking progress at a high level. In short a “Trust but Verify” approach.

Learn more about Managing Self Organizing Teams in this article by Jim Highsmith.

Sapience brings you a product that tracks daily and weekly activities, and delivers the ‘big picture’ about your teams. This may be enough to inform you that everything is on track (facilitating macro-management). If there are any problem areas, they get highlighted and you can alert and assist your next level to resolve the problem (micro-management if required). Mail us at and we will show Sapience can be valuable whether your need is high level management or close tracking.