Most of us are familiar with micromanagers, and we discussed this type of poor management style in our post, Horrible Bosses – The Bad, The Ugly, The Terrible. However, the term “micro” can be applied to other aspects of our professional lives as well. As it pertains to our thought processes in the workplace, micro versus macro thinking can make a huge difference in productivity, interactions with coworkers, and overall business operations.

The term “micromanager” tends to carry with it negative connotations. A micromanager is commonly known as a nitpicker; one who has to know anything about everything their employees do, not allowing them any freedom to do their work independently, and is constantly looking over shoulders and giving their (often unsolicited, unnecessary, and unwanted) advice.

In contrast, a macromanager is one who sees the bigger picture, but can often be a bit too vague with regards to managing their employees. They often leave their employees with little to no direction with their work, and give little feedback (both positive and constructive).  These management styles and behaviors are directly linked to the thought processes of these individuals, and as a result, their behaviors.

As “big picture” thinkers, macro-thinkers focus more on the society than the individual. Macro-thinkers are creative and bring with them fresh ideas and suggestions to share with the group. They focus on long-term objectives and outcomes and the end-results of behaviors and actions.

Unlike the universally disliked style of micromanagement, micro-thinkers have a number of admirable behaviors. Micro-thinkers are detailed oriented and appreciate structure and routine. They are typically rule followers and tend to be black and white thinkers. They appreciate deadlines and constantly review progress and performance.

Organizations of all sizes need both types of thinkers to succeed. As with everything, balance is key. Deadlines, short-term goals, and following rules and policies are certainly important, but equally important is the professional development of individuals and long-term objectives. What kind of thinker are you? What can you do to balance out your thought processes in the workplace to find that ideal place of equilibrium?