Micromanagement- Meaning, Effects, Examples, Does it work?
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 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 boss.
What is Micromanagement?
In a nutshell, it is a management style where the manager monitors its 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.
Effects of Micromanagement
In a rational sense, the effects of micromanagement are dreadful in the current industry. It is because employees feel suffocation 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 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 of micromanagement. 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 dip in productivity and finally 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, micromanagement 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 micromanagement 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 micromanagement. 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 the sight of the big picture and focus solely on only the 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 of micromanagement 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.
These were some negative effects of micromanagement. Now, let's have a look at the possible positive effects of micromanagement.
The Positive Effects of Micromanagement
1. Greater Control
Let's face it. It is one of the most apparent reasons why managers engage in micromanagement. 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 minute details is one of the more attractive perks.
Since a manager is more experienced than its 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's 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.
These were the positive effects of micromanagement.
Now, at this point, it will also be befitting to make a distinction. It is the distinction between micromanagement and macromanagement.
So, let's have a brief look at that as well!
Micromanagement vs. Macromanagement
While micromanagement looks at the smallest of things and practices rigid scrutiny, macromanagement is the opposite. Micromanagement 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 these. So, let's point out certain situations in which the two of these work better.
- For higher job satisfaction, macromanagement is the way forward as it provides better employee experience. By micromanaging, you can only ruin a workforce's morale.
- 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 micromanagement 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.
These are some of the situations in which one triumphs over the other.
Now, in some cases, it may happen a manager practices micromanagement unknowingly. In this case, you may sometimes practice micromanagement as well, even if you don't want to. To help prevent these, here are a few examples of micromanagement that you may be engaging in subconsciously.
Common Micromanagement Examples in the Workplace
In a nutshell, here are the common examples 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.
- 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 not trusting 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.
- Always the one pointing the direction to a goal without asking for other's opinions.
These were a few common micromanagement examples in the workplace.
We hope by reading our piece thus far, you are getting a fair idea about micromanagement. Now, let's bring a few outside perspectives into the topic and understand what some personalities have to say about micromanagement.
So, here are a few micromanagement quotes to start this off.
Micromanage the process, not the people
– Joe Apfelbaum
Micromanagement is the destroyer of momentum.
– Miles Anthony Smith
Invariably, micromanaging results in four problems: deceit, disloyalty, conflict, and communication problems.
– John Rosemond
The "result" of micromanagement is perhaps tangible in the short run, but more often causes damage for the long term.
– Pearl Zhu
Micro-managing creativity kills it.
– Stewart Stafford
In general, looking forward is great management; looking backward is micromanagement.
– Verne Harnish
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
Authority—when abused through micromanagement, intimidation, or verbal or nonverbal threats—makes people shut down & productivity ceases.
– John Stoker
A boss who micromanages is like a coach who wants to get in the game.
– Simon Sinek
Micromanagement is an obstacle to be overcome rather than a method to command.
– Terry Mixon
Micromanaging erodes people's confidence, making them overly dependent on their leaders.
– Diane Dreher
Micromanagement is the motivational equivalent of buying on credit. Enjoy a better product now, but pay a hefty price for it later.
– Ron Friedman
Micromanaging is ridiculous. There's always a certain amount of dynamic tension, which is good because it stimulates creative thinking.
– Karin Uhlich
These were some popular views about micromanagement by a few famous personalities.
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 micromanagement 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.
The bottom line is that every CEO dreams of having a manager whom he can rely upon and have great attention to details.
Micromanagement is a sensitive issue and must fall into cautious hands. There is a fragile line between achieving outstanding results and inducing attrition through micromanagement. The idea is to find where the line is.