What Is the Difference Between Micromanagement and Macromangement?

by Katrina Arthurs; Updated September 26, 2017

Management skills are applied to nearly every aspect of life, from running a household to operating a multimillion dollar business. Management can be broken down into two categories: micromanagement and macromanagement. While one may be more affective in a certain field than the other, both micromanaging and macromanaging have their benefits and pitfalls.

Micromanaging

The word “micro” is derived from the Greek word that means small. In terms of management, it is where the manager takes a close and active role in managing the affairs of a business. Subordinates or employees are closely observed and the manager sets the pace and controls all aspects of an assignment.

Macromanaging

“Macro” comes from the Greek word for large. Frederick Keller defined macromanaging as setting business policy, determining strategy and organizing management. A macromanager delegates responsibilities to subordinates.

Micromanaging Pros and Cons

“Micromanager” is often used as a derogatory term. In the business world, a micromanager can be seen as judgmental, controlling or even dictatorial. In these cases, micromanagers either relegate very little work to subordinates or are overly critical of every detail of a project. Workers in this situation can start feeling resentful and even loose motivation. However, micromanaging can also be a beneficial tool in starting a new business and training new employees. When a business is first opened, it will be the responsibility of the manager to establish procedures and protocols for everything from location and office supplies to the hiring process and project loads. In such cases, the micromanager is likely to be the business owner.

Macromanaging Pros and Cons

Macromanagement is simply “managing the managers.” A macromanager decides what projects need to be done, sets the desired outcome and delegates responsibilities to subordinates. Macromanagers act as general overseers. They rely heavily on those assigned to a project to complete it according to standards and protocol, but they contribute very little. Macromanagement is considered more effective for employees higher up in a company. Less time is spent handling day-to-day operations and more time is spent developing new strategies. One big pitfall of macromanaging is the lack of real involvement in a specific project. Often, if a problem arises, a macromanager will not know about it until it becomes serious. This can result in missed deadlines, add to the budget and may even create legal issues for the company.

About the Author

Katrina Arthurs began her writing career in 1999. She served as a columnist for the "Edgewood News Herald" then as a reporter and production manager for the "KC Conservative." Arthurs is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in criminal justice at the University of Central Missouri.