The Pitfalls of Micromanagement

It’s a common office cliche - the over-attentive manager who’s constantly looking over their employee’s shoulder, closely scrutinizing their work, and watching their every move. 

Hands-on leadership can be a good thing, but micromanagers need to learn when to step back. Zealously policing employees isn’t just annoying and intrusive - over the long-term, it can significantly erode morale and disrupt productivity.

How to identify a micromanager

Managers are there to guide, assist, and oversee their employees. But how do they know when they’ve crossed the line from helpful into interfering?

A big clue is behavior that’s destructive rather than constructive. For example, it’s a good idea to remind employees of looming deadlines, but repeatedly interrupting them to demand they work quicker is more likely to destroy their motivation than boost it. 

Positive management is based on effective communication, respectful coaching, and empowering leadership. By contrast, micromanagement is characterized by manipulation, intimidation, and control.

Micromanagers typically make excessive demands and shun collaboration or delegation. They would rather dominate their team than give them the opportunity to fulfill their potential. These leaders are too focused on results rather than equipping their team with what they need to thrive.

The downsides of micromanagement

The detrimental effects of micromanagement can cascade through an entire organization, poisoning company culture and leading to unresolved conflict. 

Employee mental health

At its worst, micromanaging is a form of bullying. Controlling leaders can quickly become abusive leaders, making their employees feel stressed, anxious, and depressed.

Stressed employees are more prone to burnout, absenteeism, and dips in performance. If their concerns aren’t addressed, these employees will simply leave.

Employee retention

You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘employees don’t quit companies, they quit bosses.’ Like most sayings, there’s a lot of truth to this one -  bad managers have a direct impact on employee retention and recruitment. 

Micromanagement is one of the top three reasons employees resign. Given the ongoing labor shortages affecting all industries, companies can’t afford to give their micromanagers a pass.

Employee performance

Teams are built on trust. Good managers trust that their employees have the skills and ability to perform their tasks - so they leave them to it. 

Research shows that people who feel like they’re being watched are more distracted and perform below their abilities as a result. 71% of employees say micromanaging has negatively affected their job performance, according to a survey from Trinity Solutions

Micromanaging remote workers

Offices are going through a prolonged period of change as they navigate economic constraints, new work models, and demographic shifts. This upheaval can be a trigger for micromanaging as leaders try even harder to control their team’s performance amid uncertain times.

With the shift to remote work models, many managers are finding it tough to strike the balance between oversight and overkill. Leaders who are used to interacting with their team on a daily basis can find it daunting to rely solely on digital tools to keep everyone on track. This is where trust becomes even more important. Managers should take care to show their remote workers the same level of trust and respect they give in-office personnel. 

For leaders who are falling into the trap of micromanaging their remote staff, Gartner recommends: 

  • Flexibility - don’t push for perfection, let your team find their own way. As long as they hit their deadline and produce good work, be flexible about how and when they work.
  • Respect - trust your team to do the work and, if they don’t, don’t blame. Instead, focus on lessons learned and encourage employees to share feedback on what they think went wrong.
  • Reflection - be mindful of your own destructive behaviors and make the effort to change them, e.g delegating more if you have trouble giving up control.

Monitor, don’t micromanage

Employee productivity monitoring software, Prodoscore keeps managers informed, without intruding on employee privacy or activity. The easy to use system compiles data around how employees interact with cloud-based company tools to give managers insight into their team’s engagement over time.

With all the information readily available from a central platform, team leaders can see how their department is doing in just a few clicks - making it ideal for remote work monitoring. Individual and team productivity scores show trends so managers can spot those headed for burnout and/or identify star contributors. Having this kind of custom data at their fingertips allows managers to deliver targeted guidance rather than alienating employees with heavy-handed oversight. 

EPM solution, Prodoscore, helps managers empower their team and lead them to success. Get in touch today to schedule a demonstration or find out more.

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