One of the clear statements about micromanagement is that micromanagers control outcomes and not people. It might be valid to some extent, but we believe in looking at things from different perspectives.
The common belief is that the word "micromanagement" has a negative connotation. And why not? It is frustrating and demotivating. As if dealing with a tough job wasn't enough, you now have to deal with a nagging micromanager.
- What is Micromanagement?
- Signs of a Micromanager in the Workplace
- Effects of Micromanagement
- The Negative Effects of Micromanagement
- The Positive Effects of Micromanagement
- Micromanagement vs. Macromanagement
- Micromanagement Quotes
- Is Micromanagement Effective?
- How to deal with Micromanagement?
What is Micromanagement?
Micromanagement or micromanaging is a management style where the manager monitors their subordinates and team members extensively. This means being fully involved in their work, limiting the workforce's creativity, autonomy, and input.
It often harms employee engagement and experience, mostly resulting in attrition.
Signs of a Micromanager in the Workplace
Here are the common signs of a micromanager in the workplace:
- Being too involved in every step of the way that a worker takes in his/her work.
- Reluctant to trust in the capabilities of a workforce to do their task well.
- They need their team to take approval for everything they do.
- They are always on the lookout for perfection. While this pursuit is not wrong, you must understand that you cannot get perfection in everything.
- Getting less input from workers because managers don’t trust them enough to come up with good ideas
- Always impatient to get work done well and quickly at the same time, a combination that does not go well together. For the work to get over properly, you must give your staff time.
- A micromanager is often of the opinion that he/she is all-knowing. In this belief, they think no one else can do a better job than them. It results in a low delegation as an example in this case.
- Focusing more on criticizing what people are doing wrong rather than developing strengths. They don't give public praise and recognition to their team.
Micromanagement can have a cascading effect on the way workplaces function. When leaders put extreme pressure on managers for goals, the managers transfer that pressure to the front lines. This is detrimental to the overall organizational performance.
Effects of Micromanagement
In a rational sense, the effects of micromanagement are dreadful in the current industry. It is because employees feel suffocated in such a work environment, which harms their experience and performance.
But let's look from the perspective of a manager. It must be frustrating to watch someone fall behind when you very well know how to avoid the pitfalls.
It gets hard not to keep silent when someone is making a mistake on your project in such a scenario.
But is that a license for management positions to practice micromanaging? And does it work to improve the situation?
Let's start our pursuit of the answers by looking at the negative and positive effects of micromanaging.
The Negative Effects of Micromanagement
1. Damages trust
It is probably the most damaging aspect of micromanaging your staff. Your workforce no longer sees you as a knight in shining armor leader but rather as a brute boss. This nagging attention to small details destroys the trust that exists between you and your subordinates.
Lack of trust between you and your workers can have two consequences. Either it can result in a loss of motivation or, worse, loss in personnel.
Yes, employee attrition is a real problem. You may lose many high-performing workers due to practicing a micromanager style.
Trust is a mutual emotion. Your subordinates will trust you only as much as you trust them. Therefore, you must drop this management style to create an environment of trust in the company.
2. High Attrition Rates
Without beating around the bush, it's a fact that people don't like bossy individuals. It means by being one, your workers will only lead to frustration and a dip in productivity, and finally an increase in turnover rates.
Paying attention to insignificant and minute details rob your workers of their freedom. Which ultimately destroys morale and affects the momentum of your company.
Even from a financial point of view, it doesn't seem to make much sense. High turnover rates ultimately diminish any monetary gains from your pursuit of perfection.
3. High Burnout
The irony is that this is not just about your employees but also your problem too. Here's a simple fact: Micromanaging is exhausting. Treating your staff like kids and looking at all employees' work every step of the way will soon burn you out.
Burnout will soon lead to you hating your job and the very company you are in employment. We have seen countless managers leaving their job due to burnout. A lousy role makes you hate not only your company but also the position.
Very often, we have seen people not willing to go back to any management role.
This burnout usually affects the ones beneath you as well. Most managers end up venting their frustration on their subordinates. It again leads to burnout and frustration in the workforce.
Burnout is a vicious cycle, and it takes a toll on both your physical and mental health.
Sometimes it's easier and better for everyone if you take a step back and leave some room to breathe for both your workers and yourself.
4. Dependent Staff
One unseen effect of this management style is that your subordinates or workers become dependent. Your workers steadily lose their confidence and ability to work on a project when you fail to delegate work with autonomy.
And of course, it doesn't make sense. You hired talents because they bring something fresh and exciting to the table. What's the point if you are going to dictate and kill their creativity?
We believe that when people are given the right amount of freedom in their work, magic happens. Just look at some of the world's biggest companies, and you will notice that they are not very strong advocates of such management styles. Coincidence?
5. Narrow Vision And Scope
Another very neglected effect is the loss of control and vision. When managers demand frequent updates from their subordinates, it is an indication that they are losing sight of the big picture and focus solely on only short-term gains.
Also, when a manager closely observes a team, the management tools become very limited. Slowly the only management tool at disposal is sole control. An interesting fact about control is when it is the only management tool exercised; people usually lose it.
And of course, another pungent effect is that your vision becomes the team's or company's vision. Your workers lose their creativity and ultimately lose the ability to bring anything new to the table.
The Positive Effects of Micromanagement
1. Greater Control
Let's face it. It is one of the most apparent reasons why managers engage in this kind of management style. They want greater control over the operations and results of the project. The bottom line is if you are a paranoid perfectionist, then closely overseeing and paying attention to small details is one of the more attractive perks.
Since a manager is more experienced than their subordinates, he is more likely to foresee and avoid any process's adverse outcome.
2. Get New Hires Up To Speed
It's difficult for new hires to understand our trade tricks, more so if your new talent has no prior experience and is a fresher. Closely monitoring your new employees' activities is a great way to bring your new employees up to speed.
It makes it easier for new hires to add value to their departments because of the intense onboarding process.
3. Delegation Of Work is Easier
Since you have been closely observing your team, the delegation of work is far more comfortable. In any case, a delegation of work is easier. Since a micromanager is doing most of the work, he/she will be the perfect person to delegate any project task.
4. High Engagement With the Team
One thing you cannot accuse a micromanager of is not engaging with its team. They have better communication skills than a macro manager and highly engage with the team. Any problem in the group is aptly dealt with by the manager without any second thought.
They take upon their shoulders the task of delivering outstanding results and usually do not fail very often.
Micromanagement vs. Macromanagement
While micromanagement looks at the smallest of things and practices rigid scrutiny, macromanagement is the opposite. Macromanagement works by looking at the big picture and giving workers the freedom to work by themselves.
Since these are such vast contrasting subjects, one can often draw a comparison between them. So, let's point out certain situations in which the two of these work better.
For better control of the projects, micromanagement is much better. It is so because this management style gives more control of the work. This means the manager can steer the ship; however, he/she deems fit.
For better trust in the workplace, you must practice macromanagement. The whole concept of this approach is built on trust and hence will give you much better results.
On specific procedures like onboarding, you may need to practice micromanagement. It is because new workers may not know the work and your company. In this regard, they need someone to guide them through.
Being self-sufficient is crucial in the corporate world today. Workers must be able to handle their tasks by themselves rather than having someone look over them 24x7. To instill this attribute in your workforce, you must opt for macromanagement to let them learn to work by themselves.
In some instances, communication is vital. For having the best communicating managers, micromanagement can help you to an extent. It is because it relies on continuous communication between the subordinates and managers. This makes for better practice.
For having a better working environment, macromanagement is always a much safer option than micromanagement. The latter reduces motivation, morale, employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and so on.
In specific high-priority time-sensitive projects, you may need to practice micromanagement to ensure things get complete in time. In this aspect, one must be sure not to overdo it.
We hope by reading our piece thus far, you are getting a fair idea about what this management style is all about. Now, let's bring a few outside perspectives into the topic and understand what some personalities have to say about the management style that we have been discussing till now.
Micromanage the process, not the people
– Joe Apfelbaum
Invariably, micromanaging results in four problems: deceit, disloyalty, conflict, and communication problems.
– John Rosemond
Micro-managing creativity kills it.
– Stewart Stafford
None of us should wait to be told what to do, or how to do it. Micromanagement kills initiative, judgment, and creativity.
– David H. Maister
A boss who micromanages is like a coach who wants to get in the game.
– Simon Sinek
Micromanaging erodes people's confidence, making them overly dependent on their leaders.
– Diane Dreher
Micromanaging is ridiculous. There's always a certain amount of dynamic tension, which is good because it stimulates creative thinking.
– Karin Uhlich
Now, let's bring this towards an end with the most important question; does it work?
Is Micromanagement Effective?
There is one thing you must understand that everything has its positives and negatives. Similarly, micromanagement also has some positives and scenarios in which it is useful, as discussed above. Now, the situation comes down to how you handle it.
If you use it in the correct must-have situations, then yes, it will work. But, if you overdo it at every step of the way, it won't be effective.
So, in short, it all comes down to how you implement it in the workplace.
How to deal with Micromanagement?
The first step to deal with micromanagement is to identify and accept that there is micromanagement. The signs of a micromanager outlined above can help you identify this. Once acknowledged, we can now work on how to tackle it.
Here are some ways that can help address micromanagement at the workplace:
Micromanagers feel they can’t trust others’ decisions or abilities, so they choose to keep a watch at all times. Establishing the right communication is critical to building this trust.
Assure them that you know what you are doing and will do whatever it takes to achieve the goals. Check-in with them regularly to let them know how things are going.
Encourage your manager to create checklists with objectives, milestones, and measurable outcomes. Managers can review the performances during check-in meetings. But get them to agree to not interfere during the interim period.
Managers can set deadlines for deliverables and review the progress of projects during periodic check-ins.
Keep all communication channels open to help and guide the team in the right direction.
We need to understand that micromanagement can be a result of deeper issues. It can be a sign of a fear of failure or insecurities of not doing well enough. This could be the first time they are leading and may not know any other way of management. Maybe they find it hard to give up control or maybe that is how they measure their worth.
It is critical to develop empathy if we want to effectively solve the issues of micromanagement. Teach managers about delegation— how it can make their work easier as well as contribute to their success.
The bottom line is that every CEO dreams of having a manager whom he can rely upon and who has great attention to detail.
Micromanagement is a sensitive issue and must fall into cautious hands. There is a fragile line between achieving outstanding results and inducing attrition through it. The idea is to find where the line is.