Employee ExperienceLeadership

Why is micromanagement doing more harm than good?

Key takeaways from this blog:

  • Why micromanaging employees actually hurts productivity and engagement?
  • How to spot micromanagers in the company?
  • How to break this habit?

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives or careers. We want to know firsthand what’s going on and keep tabs on every detail possible. At some point, we start having the same expectations from our colleagues.

The truth is – it’s impossible to be at several places at the same time, yet, a lot of managers can’t seem to let go of this habit. In truth, this is probably doing more damage to their teams and companies in the long run than they might realize.

Micromanaging isn’t anything new in business. It can be argued that some people do it because they’re trying to help others. But this help does quite the opposite.

People working under constant watch and pressure tend to have worse performance and their creativity suffers. On top of this, micromanaging sends a message that we don’t trust our employees and that we have a company culture based on control and pressure. This, in turn, can lead to an increase in employee turnover and even stunt the company’s growth, since critical thinking and innovation can be sidelined. 

Now that we have an idea of what micromanaging is, we can get into the matter of eliminating it from our workplace. 

The first order of business should be recognizing micromanagers within our company. As with all behavioral characteristics, this can manifest in different ways, but there are some clear signs of someone being a micromanager:

  • Constantly checking where workers are
  • Asking to be added to all emails
  • Refuses to delegate tasks
  • Focuses on unimportant details
  • Rarely asks for input from others
  • Never satisfied with the final results.

Most micromanagers don’t even realize something is off and that their management style isn’t optimal. In these cases, they need to be presented with evidence that their style is actually hurting the company.

Hyacinth Guy, a Vice President of HR at Caribbean Airlines, shows us an example of how one manager was shocked when an anonymous survey of her employees showed that she received a rating of two out of five on her skills as a supervisor. In response, the manager was assigned a coach who started working on raising awareness of how she was viewed and helped her with delegating and time management issues. 

So, how do we go on about eliminating this from the workplace? 

  • Communicate and set boundaries

It’s important to clearly communicate what accountability is and what are the expectations from the employees. People need to know what is expected of them in a workplace, and what their responsibilities are. Set specific boundaries to what extent a manager has a say in the employees’ tasks.

There is a thin line between checking if someone needs help (especially if it’s a young colleague) and standing over someone’s shoulder all the time. This will foster a sense of trust between managers and workers and help develop a healthy work climate. Good communication will also help assess the strengths and weaknesses of employees so we know how to better manage their workload.

  • Delegating 

As stated in the beginning, micromanagers tend to be the type of people that want to stay on top of every part of work at all times. It is a trait that surely can be beneficial but, at the same time, there is no denying that it is highly unlikely one can pay attention to different aspects of work at the same time. This is why prioritizing tasks makes a difference and gives us the option to decide what should be the focus at a given moment. Knowing what needs our attention and where we can let others step in lets us feel more relaxed and gives better results overall.

Implementing these strategies will not only give us a healthier workplace, but it will also give the employees a sense of accomplishment and push their career development. When employees feel like their leadership has the confidence to let them handle their tasks and have ownership over their work, it will give them the signal that their skills and contributions are valued by the company. 

Author: Strahinja Grujić

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