Micromanagement is identified as one of the leadership flaws that can hurt worker productivity. While it is generally easy for managers and leaders to cultivate the tendency, most do not care to measure the impact it has on worker morale and productivity.
There are very few workers who would claim they like being micromanaged. Most of them hate micromanagers. Micromanagement hurts employee productivity and engagement. Curbing this tendency inside an organization can have a positive impact on employee productivity and business performance. Micromanagement is also often seen as a lack of emotional intelligence and creativity. Creative managers are more supportive in their approach to managing their employees and their performance.
Why do bosses micromanage?
Before dealing with how micromanagement hurts productivity, let’s consider the reasons that bosses micromanage. Do they find sadistic pleasure in micromanaging their employees? Or is it some fear that drives them to micromanage their employees? Many bosses fear losing control and therefore try to manage tight control of their subordinates. They micromanage since they like to be seen as authority figures and experts. Such bosses are not micromanaging because they want their employees to fear them, but they cannot bear to lose control. Some of them even live in a type of existential crisis and micromanage to overcome it. Even if they know that their attitude is hurting the office environment and worker morale, they cannot overcome their tendency to micromanage since everything will slip out of their hands.
What are the ill effects of Micromanagement?
Micromanagement is not a great strategy for managing workers. It is a self-defeating strategy that, in the end, hurts your own image apart from your workers’ performance. There are several ills of Micromanagement, and some of them are listed below:
Causes employee disengagement and loss of creativity:
Micromanagement hurts worker productivity. It does so by causing employee disengagement. Micromanagers are a big distraction for workers. They try to dominate and rule by fear. It causes disengagement and a loss of focus. Employees try to accomplish only what is asked of them and do not feel encouraged to think creatively. They do not try to apply creative ideas out of the fear that it could disappoint their manager. Micromanagement gives rise to distractions and negativity since employees focus less on their work and more on their manager’s instructions.
Forces employees to be less accountable or to retaliate:
The level of employee accountability is less under micromanagers than managers who use creative techniques to motivate their employees. Motivated employees feel more accountable for their jobs and do more than they are asked to. However, micromanaging them tends to shift their focus away from their responsibilities. Such employees do not feel empowered, and that can give rise to a tendency to retaliate. They try to avoid their managers and any confrontation. If they feel humiliated, they will not stay with the company out of compulsion but use methods to financially hurt the organization. However, if they are repeatedly subjected to the pain, it will give rise to a tendency to retaliate.
Can prove costly for the company:
Micromanaging managers often find enough space to demonstrate their toxicity inside organizations that do not value their human capital. However, micromanagement can be more hurtful for the organization than profitable. It can drive the turnover rate higher. Such companies may spend more on hiring and training employees than the organizations that value their human capital and treat them nicely.
Micromanagement is encouraged inside organizations that have toxic cultures. However, even if they drive growth in the short run, toxic cultures tend to hurt organizational performance and business image in the long run. Overall, micromanagement proves costly for a company in several regards. Research has also shown that micromanagement is one of the top reasons that employees resign early.
Can spoil office environment and culture:
Micromanagement hurts organizational culture and values. It also spoils the office environment. An environment of fear can give rise to a toxic organizational culture. While micromanagers and office politics will flourish in such an environment, good employees will leave the organization early. Micromanagers can also be infectious and turn otherwise good employees into micromanagers. They will create scope for office politics, and in the end, it will hurt the organization’s operations and productivity by hurting work quality.
How to stop micromanaging?
Managers can stop micromanaging. Lauren Landry of Harvard Business School Online suggests managers should practice delegating, setting clear expectations, and consulting employees over how they would like to be managed.
Managers should set clear expectations before beginning a project. The more clear they are about their objectives, the benchmarks, and the measures they will use to measure performance, the better your employees’ performance will be. Outline the goals clearly and let your employees prove their skills. Micromanagers believe they are the only ones who can accomplish a specific task. However, leaving the employees out of the picture and not trusting them will not generate the right results.
Managers should practice delegating. If they do not delegate, they will end up micromanaging their team. Micromanagers find it difficult to relinquish authority. They fear if they share authority with their employees, it will loosen their grasp on them. However, this practice affects employee morale. Managers who willingly share authority with their team members and keep their team members motivated can generate superior results.
Sometimes managers trying to be perfectionists also end up micromanaging their employees. They are less ready to embrace failure. However, managers can let go of perfectionism and remain open to new ideas. Perfectionist micromanagers can cause a loss of creativity. They reward the same behavior repeatedly, which stops the flow of creative and innovative ideas since employees will keep beating the same track to get rewarded.
To avoid micromanaging, it is also important to have the right people in your team. The likelihood that you will micromanage your team is higher if you do not have the people with the right skills in your team or less skilled people. You will need to frequently check if your subordinates are doing the right thing if you cannot trust their skills. The focus should remain on hiring the right people who are a perfect fit for the position and organizational culture.
Employer-employee relationships are also an important concern for organizations. The companies that want to maintain strong relationships with their employees do not encourage micromanaging since it hurts productivity and relationships. While in large organizations, managers and leaders may not find it possible to ask each individual how he would like to be managed, it is still a good practice to let the workers have some say in management. It makes them feel empowered, and you will be able to achieve the right balance. If you can persuade your people, it is easier to make your point heard. However, you first need to win their trust and generate trust; you should focus on the relationships you have maintained with your employees. If your relationships with your workers are strong, it will ensure that their performance aligns with organizational objectives and mission.
A few last words:
Micromanagement hurts productivity, worker morale, innovation, and business image. However, it becomes a habit for most managers since they keep believing it is the shortcut to getting things done. However, they miss the larger picture. It is not impossible to change this attitude and take a more creative approach to manage your human capital. While micromanagement may be a good approach in some situations, it is not always the right style. Research has highlighted how it can create a work environment full of negativity and fear. Getting rid of this habit will motivate your employees, strengthen employer-employee relationships and reduce your HR-related costs. Rather than sticking to this outdated and useless style, managers must remain ready to try new and creative approaches which help their employees perform better and achieve more.