What is Micromanagement?
It is the process of overly detailed control of another person’s actions. The focus is on doing it the manager’s way and no other way will suffice. It is based on the manager’s fear-driven belief that he/she must be in control.
Traits of a Micromanager:
Let’s examine some common traits of micromanagers. See if you display any of the following behaviors:
- No one seems grateful for your constructive input.
- Your department has a high turnover rate.
- Those under your authority are frequently feeling frustrated.
- Nothing can be submitted without your approval.
- You expect to be cc’d on emails.
- You constantly want to know status of your team members’ work.
- You take great pride in correcting every little detail of your employees’ documentation.
- You feel frustrated because you believe you would have done the job better/differently.
- You don’t know how to let go of control.
- You become a bottleneck in the process.
- You do not give authority to your employees. It all resides with you.
The problem with micromanaging is that the same level of scrutiny is applied to every task, whether necessary or not. The end result is low employee morale, lowered productivity, and increased turnover.
Effects of Micromanagement on Employees:
“And I came back from the restroom, and my boss was standing at my cubicle wondering where I’d been.” (Noguchi, 2017)
Those who over-manage, over-scrutinize, and over-frustrate employees, destroy what they are empowered to create. If you want to create a workplace that thrives, you need to learn the skill of hiring winners and then letting them do their thing – win.
What you might not realize is that telling your employees how to do their job is causing their performance to plummet. Any thinking person, who values their own input, will be put off and will spend most of their emotional energy trying to survive and find a new job.
Not only does micromanaging cause performance to plummet, it also destroys relationships and morale in the workplace. It leads to the erosion of employees’ self-esteem because they become too afraid to have an independent thought or make an autonomous choice, always feeling that they will be reprimanded if they do.
If you want to be the center of all creativity and decision making then don’t hire intelligent, creative, independent thinkers; rather hire people who don’t think for themselves, and then tell them what steps to take. This will satisfy your comfort zone and will prevent fallout from working with people who value themselves, their ideas, and their autonomy.
Employees who are micromanaged also feel insulted and disrespected because there is a constant implication that they are not capable or competent enough to provide positive input to the company without you holding their hand. When employees are scrutinized to such a level. they end up feeling defeated and even depressed. This stifles creativity and diminishes excellence and the quality of the output.
“We need employees who will do more than do what they’re told — employees who will think for themselves, who will be creative, who will try new approaches.” (Noguchi, 2017)
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Steve Jobs.
On a personal level, if you are a micromanager, you will not be liked by your staff. Instead of being inspirational and valued, you will be resented. Your employees will cringe when you appear. You will not be respected. Your employees will disengage from you, becoming “robot-like,” losing any desire at all to be in a real relationship with you.
Even if you gain the short-term results of getting your way, you will lose much more in the long run. The problems you are trying to avoid by checking everything your staff does, will be outweighed by the problems created. Micromanagement causes increased turnover, wastes human capital, and stifles innovation.
How employees view a beloved leader:
If you can learn to lead by influence, rather than by control, you will experience many benefits, both professionally as well as personally. If you can learn to be the type of leader that others want to follow because you exude true leadership qualities, then you will be viewed by your subordinates:
- As a mentor.
- As someone who inspires them to do better.
- As someone to be admired and looked up to.
- As someone others want to please and make look good.
Root cause of micromanagement:
The root cause of micromanagement is anxiety. It is a fear-based behavior; the fear that without your input, the job won’t be done right. This is a very limited view of what right is.
Effects of Micromanagement on Productivity:
“I did the absolute bare minimum to get my paycheck,” she says. “It did not make me want to help the company in any way.” (Noguchi, 2017)
- Kills motivation
- Reduces productivity
- Diminishes excellence
- Wastes time
“When employees feel they can’t trust their boss, they feel unsafe, like no one has their back, and then spend more energy on survival than performing at their job.” (Hyacinth, 2018).
How to Stop Micromanaging and Start Leading:
Here are 11 tips for eliminating your habit of micromanagement (Forbes, 2018):
- Locate yourself physically away from your employees. This will prevent you from hovering and causing your staff to feel as if you are “spying” on them.
- Manage expectations, not tasks. Tell your staff what you expect, not how to do it.
- Focus on what only you can do. Let others do what they are capable of doing, rather than focusing your attention on your job and theirs. Keep the focus on what the others on your team absolutely cannot do. “Stay in your own lane.”
- Ask for feedback. Ask your employees how they would like to be managed. And be safe of enough for them to give you honest answers. Don’t create an atmosphere that generates “yes” men, rather encourage authenticity.
- Manage the company culture. This is a top-down exercise. Instill the company values by modeling them. If you want your company to be successful, don’t instill a culture of fear (i.e., micro-management.) You want people to be willing to make mistakes, this is how great ideas are generated.
- Trust your team. If you don’t they will sense that and will lose confidence in themselves.
- Allow failure. Your company will grow as you give your team the permission to try out things that may not work. Everyone learns through failure. Allow your staff to take risks. Through failure you learn what doesn’t work. This in and of itself is valuable.
- Be a facilitator, rather than a task master. This will take the internal pressure off yourself to micromanage. As you remind yourself that you are the facilitator this will help you step back and support others to shine.
- Encourage intrapreneurship. This means that you are encouraging your staff to be entrepreneurs within their scope of influence.
- Set aside your personal agenda. Allow others to have input and share their ideas. This will stimulate creativity and improve the overall synergy of the team.
- Give your staff ownership of their work. Allow others more responsibility than you are comfortable with. Know you are succeeding if you feel a level of discomfort that requires you to “sit on your hands and sweat.” As you give your staff empowerment you will see an increase in quality and output. People love to own what they do.
“To succeed as a manager, hire winners, tell them what you need, give them your support, and then get out of their way and let them do their jobs.” (Tanner, 2019).
“If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external.” – Steven Covey.
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BambooHR (May 18, 2017). Under the Microscope: How Micromanaging Harms Productivity. Retrieved from: https://www.bamboohr.com/blog/micromanaging-harms-productivity/
Forbes Coaches Counsel. (June 4, 2018). Try These 12 Strategies If You Need To Stop Micromanaging. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/06/04/try-these-12-strategies-if-you-need-to-stop-micromanaging/#78a488d51c48
Hyacynth, B. (July 5, 2018). Micromanagement make BEST PEOPLE Quit! LinkedIn.
Noguchi, Y. (July 17, 2017). Is Your Boss Too Controlling? Many Employees Clash With Micromanagers. All Things Considered. NPR
Tanner, R. (June 1, 2019). You’ve Hired Superstars! It’s Time to Stop Micromanaging Them!
White, R.D. (March 1, 2010). The Micromanagement Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Cure. Public Personnel Management. https://doi.org/10.1177/009102601003900105