09 July 2019

Being overly involved in the daily decisions and activities of your employees is known as micromanagement.

To be a good manager, you should be able to delegate tasks to your employees and streamline the approval process for routine activities.

Micromanagement has a negative impact on both individual and team productivity. It can also be harmful to people's health in extreme circumstances.

In this guide, we'll go through what micromanagement is, the common signs of a micromanager, and how to stop micromanaging in your company.

What is micromanagement?

Micromanagement is a management style where a business manager closely observes or controls their employees' work.

In business management, micromanagement is typically seen as with negative connotation. This is mostly because it demonstrates a lack of trust and flexibility at work.

What are the signs of micromanagement?

There are so many examples for signs that you could be a micromanager. For example:

  • Seeking your approval for every task.
  • Keeping you CC’d in every email.
  • Being highly aware of your employees' situations.
  • Need to edit your employees' work.
  • Dislike delegating tasks.
  • Obsessing over minor details.

Seeking your approval for every task

Most micromanagers can't tolerate the idea of giving their team total control and accountability for their work.

If you're a micromanager, you constantly make edits and give approval before any work is considered complete.

Keeping you CC’d in every email

As a micromanager, conversations can't happen without your notice, and you worry about missing emails and important information.

You feel the need to be constantly informed of what's going on and to exert as much control over the conversations as possible.

You believe the best approach is to have your email address included in all correspondence. And you thrive to be present in all work groups.

Being highly aware of your employees' situations

There's a good chance you have micromanager tendencies if you worry constantly about where your employees are.

As such, you find yourself becoming frustrated when employees don't reply to your messages right away.

Need to edit your employees' work

A micromanager closely observes an employee's work and criticises their methods. These types of managers usually maintain excessive supervision over their employees.

As a micromanager, you love spotting grammar errors in your copywriter's work. If you manage a software development team, you enjoy the feeling of fixing lines of code in your software developer's work.

Dislike delegating tasks

Many micromanagers say ‘if you want it done properly, do it yourself’. They feel they are the most qualified person to handle the tasks assigned to their team.

Knowing when to delegate is a critical management skill and the first step in providing your staff with opportunities to thrive.

If you believe you are the best person for every job your team members are handling, you very much look like a micromanager.

Obsessing over minor details

Micromanagers like concentrating on tiny details of a project. Their perceived lack of faith in their team to provide high-quality work makes them waste time on trivial issues.

Instead of dissecting each and every task, a manager should build confidence in others, oversee the overall project, and function as a team leader.

Employees fist-bumping each other

Why is micromanagement harmful?

Micromanagement is bad for business; so, of the main disadvantages include:

Harms employee morale and trust 

A significant number of employees who experience micromanagement in the workplace usually indicate that their morale begins to suffer.

This is because micromanaged employees lose their feeling of autonomy, resulting in lower motivation to go the extra mile.

When employees believe that the job they produce will be highly criticised or questioned, they are less likely to put out effort in the first place.

Raises employee turnover

The same Trinity Solutions research shows that micromanagement can lead to employees considering leaving their jobs, which increases employee turnover in a company.

The next time you're tempted to pester an employee for constant updates on a small project, ask yourself if it's worth risking your relationship with that person.

Makes employees dependent

Employees will become dependent on their micromanaging boss when they realise that no matter how hard they work, their decent job will always be tweaked.

Acting as if nothing can be done without your input can discourage independent decision-making throughout your workplace culture.

As a result, your employees will begin to lose confidence and believe that they cannot achieve success without you.

Causes burnout

Micromanagement creates burnout not just in your employees, who should constantly work hard to keep you satisfied, but also in yourself.

When you're continuously fretting over frequent updates and checking in on team members, you're wasting precious energy that might be put to better use.

Stifles creativity

When people are constrained by strict norms, there's little room for imagination and creativity.

If you constantly correct everything your employees do and keep a close eye on them, they'll be nervous to stray out of line.

They won't want to do anything that would provoke a negative reaction, which means they'll never try new ideas.

Dampens productivity

Employee productivity is hindered by continuous monitoring, tweaking, and feedback.

This is because when you require check-ins and revisions at every stage of the project, you create a bottleneck that slows down operations and progress.

Someone writing with a pen.

How to stop micromanaging in the workplace

If you are a micromanaging boss, you should re-evaluate your management style and consider sacrificing some of your control over your people.

Although you may have good intentions, your behavioural patterns can hinder your team's ability to create authentic leadership habits.

If you don't stop micromanaging, you put your own and your people's health at risk, and increase the chance that they'll produce subpar work.

To stop these habits, follow these simple steps:

Focus on building trust

Trust in the workplace means that your employees enjoy an environment of honesty, psychological safety, and mutual respect.

It's a situation in which they're proud of where they work and want to go above and beyond to serve your company.

Managers that develop trust in their employees make them feel protected, which reduces turnover.

Trust does more than just motivate employees to do their tasks. It boosts morale, which results in greater quality work and better outcomes for your company.

Trust your staff and give them the freedom to deal with their issues while keeping weekly check-ins and status reports at a reasonable cadence.

Don't waste time

A micromanager might believe that their approach is getting more done, whereas in reality, micromanagement wastes a lot of time.

While micromanagers work longer hours, they usually get less done and frustrate the person being managed.

Instead of wasting time on small details, you should focus your efforts on the big picture.

Learn to let go

Try to get over the fear of becoming too controlling if you're new to management.

Instead of aiming for perfection in everything you do, make a list of attainable goals that you and your team can strive towards.

Loosening your hold as a manager is challenging, but ultimately important, both for the sake of your team and your own health.

Keep in mind that barriers and blunders are unavoidable while working as a team. If you try too hard to control outcomes and ensure that everything happens perfectly, you'll fall into the trap of perfectionism.

Advise your team of your expectations and allow them room to work. Then, review the key results. This not only frees up more time but also educates your team members about accountability and time management.

Get better at communicating

In order to provide your team with the best support, choose your words carefully. This is because what you don't say is just as important as what you do when it comes to communication.

Providing your staff with clear and specific instructions is an effective management technique. In this way, you ensure they don't make any wrong assumptions. You should explain what went wrong on the project and let the team deal with it themselves.

When providing feedback to your people, always provide a rationale for doing so. You should be discussing details if they need additional clarity.

Make room for learning

It's critical that you encourage your staff to advance in their careers while also guiding them through business projects.

While it's good to act as role models for the juniors, sometimes leaving them alone to work things out is the best way to help.

When you stand back and let them do things on their own terms, they have greater flexibility to develop and forge new routes. In this situation, what they discover may even help lead your company down a new and better path.

Give yourself some leeway

Management roles in business may be intimidating, so be kind with yourself if you're new to it.

Managers are sometimes put in positions without the tools or training they need to be effective. This can lead to the emergence of a micromanaging boss.

If you damage people's health and performance in the workplace, you will be held responsible for it.

Focus on learning and look for resources to help you progress. Treat people management as a new skill, rather than expecting you'll know what you're doing right away.

Get advice on micromanagement from Peninsula

Micromanagers have a desire to control aspects of their staff members' decision-making to an extreme degree. People micromanage for a variety of reasons, including a strong need for power and control, a fear of failure, and inadequate leadership skills.

While a micromanager's behaviour may have good intentions, it's a clear sign of harm to both individual and team productivity.

Peninsula offers 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 051 3687 and book a free consultation with one of our HR consultants.

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