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Oct 16, 2018

Micromanage Less, Produce More

We’ve all dealt with them – the bosses constantly asking for updates and demanding to be cc’d in all email correspondence. Generally, employees don’t like working for micromanagers so why do people fall into the habit of micromanaging?

Managers who fall into this habit often don’t know how to stop micromanaging nor do they understand how micromanaging hurts a company, employees, and even themselves.

In this article, we are going to uncover signs you are a micromanager and the effects micromanaging has in the workplace. Then, we will dive into the ways a leader can work to diminish micromanaging habits for a healthier work environment overall.

Are You a Micromanager?

Micromanagers often deflect what can be seen as an attack on their leadership style by claiming to simply be control freaks or that their employees need to be closely monitored. Some micromanagers might not even realize that their actions can be seen as micromanaging.

If you’re unsure if your actions are negatively received by employees then take a moment to reflect and review the following list of examples of micromanagement.

9 Signs You’re a Micromanager:

  1. You request frequent updates on all tasks.
  2. You grow frustrated when your employees use a different technique than the one you would have used.
  3. You need to always know where all team members are at and what they are doing.
  4. You need to be cc’d in all email correspondence.
  5. You don’t trust employees to do tasks, even ones that they are well-qualified to complete.
  6. You are never completely satisfied and catch yourself thinking that you could have done it better or quicker yourself.
  7. You criticize and scrutinize every detail and take pride in making corrections.
  8. Your employees must consult you before making decisions and be granted your permission for even the smallest task.
  9. You find that you are incredibly overworked. Sometimes working as much as 80 hours a week.

How Micromanaging Affects Employees

Micromanaging is detrimental to workplace culture and morale, causing most employees to experience a drop in motivation and productivity. In its article on the damages caused by micromanagement, the PA times shared that micromanaged employees will experience feelings of stress, fatigue, and potentially encounter health problems in relation to their work situation.

Employees who are otherwise hard-working, skilled individuals will begin to feel undervalued and lack confidence. Their lowered self-esteem will result in a sense of uselessness and eventually cause them to feel as though they have no job security.

Due to these feelings of job insecurity, companies with micromanaging leadership will usually experience high turnover rates as employees leave in favor of jobs where they will feel appreciated and secure.

The employees that stay behind turn into a sort of zombie worker. These employees have been beaten down so often and for so long that they no longer contribute original work that is disruptive in the field. They keep their heads down and robotically complete tasks. Employees like this are unable to bring any solid contribution to the company, causing the business to suffer because of it.

How Micromanagement Affects the Manager and Company

Employees aren’t the only ones affected by micromanagement. Managers and companies will also experience negative side effects from the destructive nature of micromanagers.

Managers who micromanage will focus intently on all the small tasks that other employees were hired to maintain and handle. This distracts managers from their own long-list of responsibilities and can cause them to fall behind on their work. When you micromanage someone else’s job as a manager you are usually neglecting your own job.

This leads to managers doing less of their job as well as stressed and unmotivated employees that feel undervalued. The company will experience high turnover rates, a loss of trust from employees, low morale overall, and ultimately, a decrease in productivity and progress.

How to Become Less of a Micromanager

Once you have identified yourself as a micromanager you are one step closer to solving the problem. While it is easy to convince yourself that your management style won’t change, you have to recognize that you, your employees, and the company will suffer if you don’t.

Learning to become less of a micromanager will at first feel like you are giving up control but once you become accustomed to trusting your employees to do their work on their own, you will be able to focus on tasks that have otherwise been ignored due to your micromanaging habits.

Begin by taking a step back and reflecting on your actions. Once you have thoroughly investigated your previous behaviors you can begin taking the steps to rectify your management style.

Four Steps to Control Your Micromanaging Behaviors

Here are a few steps you can start taking today to help you become less of a micromanager.

  1. Talk with your employees and collect feedback – you may not realize that some of your actions are perceived as micromanaging. Feedback from employees will help you to pinpoint and improve specific behaviors.
  2. Learn to prioritize and differentiate what matters and what is less important. Delegate simpler tasks to employees and assign yourself to big-ticket tasks that are more intensive. Do not get caught up in focusing on the little things because you won't be able to focus on the more extensive and high-level tasks.
  3. Delegate by starting with small tasks and working up from there. Give your team full reign of a small project and slowly learn to step back and give them the liberties they need to correctly perform their jobs.
  4. Build back lost trust. Employees will have become used to you not trusting them. Show your appreciation and don’t scrutinize their work.

The Benefits of No Longer Micromanaging Employees

By improving your leadership and cutting out micromanaging behavior, you are more likely to be attractive to highly-skilled c-level applicants. A bad reputation from past employees could make the hiring process much more difficult in the future.

In addition to limiting your micromanaging behavior, there are always ways in which you can improve your skills and learn how to become a better leader. By working on your leadership and learning how to better manage your team you are not only benefiting your employees but yourself and the company as well.


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