Micromanagement, wherein a boss “closely observes” or controls the work of employees, is a derogatory description now. It seems to be a standard and acceptable catchphrase thrown in attack of any boss or supervisor a worker might dislike for any reason.
If simply because micromanagement is so bad, the new term macro-management must be good. At least we have this assumption to work on, because finding out exactly what macro-management is (as opposed to what it is not) is a challenge. This term, defined by AllWords.com, is “the day-to-day management of macroprojects that are completed and operational.” According to Answers.com, macro-management refers to the “managing of numerous smaller business locations from a mother corporate headquarters” such as franchise operations. Finally, I located a reasonable definition: one that involving “leading decision makers” and “managing the managers.” It is purportedly a close cousin to the economics theory of mechanism design.
Having established some fuzzy definitions for both types of management styles, I expected to be able to argue for a particular style, micro- or macro-, as appropriate to a particular career. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. At the risk of appearing incapable of making up my mind, I have to argue that both are appropriate depending upon whether the nurse in question is experienced or a beginner.
When beginning one’s career in the unit, a nurse is typically assigned to a more experienced colleague as part of a formal arrangement between a preceptor and a novice. Micromanagement is the expected means of supervision, thereby ensuring that mistakes in judgment, technique or diagnoses, are caught and corrected before they might result in a “negative patient outcome.” Rather than micromanagement being a resented situation, it is instead a purposely-created situation to allow for learning while mistakes are minimized.
Later, after the formal preceptorship is completed, other informal methods of evaluation are used between peers and immediate first-degree supervisors. However, the primary mode of supervision that a critical care registered nurse (CCRN) would expect from her Unit Manager would be one of macro-management. The Unit Manager, or Head Nurse, is available for consultation or assistance, but the huge variety and sheer number of tasks to be accomplished for every patient virtually guarantee a macro-management style.
So, instead of using the boxes “either-or” or “good-bad,” nursing is one of many careers where the degree of supervision is expected to begin as micro- as progress to macro- as experience, skills, and abilities improve.