Employee Management

The Harmful Effects of Micromanagement

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The Harmful Effects of Micromanagement
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The Harmful Effects of Micromanagement

Every manager wants to work with productive and satisfied employees. However, this desire often leads them to walk the dangerous and harmful path of micromanagement.

This practice of excessive control over one’s colleagues often comes from a desire to do good, to help people perform and do things right. The unfortunate part is that it comes with a massive cost that is rarely worth it.

Of course, all people will benefit from being provided with opportunities for improvement. However, treading this path too often will cause people to become disengaged and unmotivated.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the dangers of micromanagement. We’ll take a look at how managers can let go of this harmful practice and learn to trust their employees, helping them perform better as a result.

Let’s dive right in.

Perils of micromanagement

The perils of micromanagement

Unfortunately, micromanagement achieves the exact opposite of what it intends. People who are excessively managed often feel an inappropriate amount of pressure, scrutiny, and influence, which ends up damaging their self-image and confidence.

Here are but a few of the things that micromanagement can cause:

Decreased productivity

Imagine the type of headspace you’d be in when you’re constantly scrutinized and provided with input on every minute detail of your work. Naturally, this leads to a lack of motivation and ownership. Make no mistake, chronic micromanagement doesn’t help employees work better. On the contrary, it dissuades them from making sound decisions and wanting to provide their valuable input in the work process.

More importantly, micromanagement stops people from learning. In a way, they become dependent on their management’s guidance and will rarely strive to become better at what they do.

Increased turnover

It’s no secret that micromanagement provides for a stressful environment. It’s corrosive to the management-employee relationship, and the continuous pressure that people are subject to will only slowly but surely push them towards quitting.

As a result, the entire momentum of a team will slowly dissipate, rendering all the effort to facilitate decision-making useless. This will eventually be reflected in the company’s bottom line.

Dwindling morale

It’s no secret that micromanagement has adverse effects on people’s morale. Think about it, humans strive to do work that they find meaningful or, at the very least, satisfying. Our jobs take up a third of our day and doing so while having to endure demeaning surveillance and scrutiny will only cause a nosedive in your team’s morale.

Less innovation

Less innovation

Innovation is a function of a diverse and inclusive environment. Whenever decisions come exclusively from the top, leaving the employees simply executing tasks, there’s no way your business will be able to provide its customers with creative, out-of-the-box solutions.

And if you add the continuous stress brought on by micromanagement, this is a perfect recipe for eradicating any inkling of innovation left in the team.

More stress and burnout

It’s no secret that being micromanaged is demeaning and frustrating. As a result, employees will grow to dislike their job with time. In the long run, this will invariably lead to excessive stress and burnout, which is by no means conducive to accountability and engagement.

Micromanagement is excessive control

Yes, micromanagement has a broad spectrum of harmful outcomes that will slowly but surely run your business into the ground. But on the bright side, it’s something that isn’t really that hard to address. You, as a business owner or manager, have enormous influence over the success of your company. Start by exploring the reasons you might feel compelled to micromanage your employees.

Fundamentally, what defines micromanagement as a phenomenon is excessive feedback combined with a lack of trust and support between the employee and the manager. Of course, there’s no switch for enabling trust. It takes time to nurture a meaningful professional relationship. And while this might take a while, it’s not really that complicated to achieve—show that you care, prove to your team that you have their back, and provide them with contextual, meaningful, and respectful feedback.

Micromanagement is also in part a manager’s conscious decision to keep employees in the dark regarding the rationale behind decisions, priorities, and goals. Naturally, this will only provide for an environment where people don’t feel the need to be engaged.

Fixing micromanagement for good

Fixing micromanagement for good

Now that we’ve explored the detrimental effects of micromanagement, let’s take a closer look at some surefire solutions for this phenomenon.

1. Create a company culture of trust and shared accountability

Organizations can eliminate micromanagement by creating a work culture where everyone owns the success of the organization. There’s very little hope for businesses that treat their workers like mere cogs in a machine, disconnected from the product of their work.

To instill a sense of shared ownership, companies should adopt a team-oriented approach to running a business. Inform people about what constitutes success and what is expected of every person when it comes to achieving these goals.

2. Focus on strengths

To combat micromanagement, leaders should have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their colleagues.

The truth is that efficient collaboration is what makes companies successful—the synergy between people’s talents, strengths, and individual experiences. Micromanagers, on the other hand, only get in the way of this fruitful collaboration.

To help surface people’s strengths as early as possible, it’s essential to clarify your expectations for new hires. Let people know that you want them to shine without your supervision.

3. Manage performance continuously

The old school of performance management is too pragmatic and, honestly, kind of outdated in the modern business ecosystem. Reviewing goals and salaries once a year simply won’t cut it.

We live in newer and faster times—things change quickly, so do the needs of businesses and employees. It is absolutely essential to communicate and set clear goals for employees, as well as continuously adjust them as work and priorities shift.

The idea here is to learn to be dynamic in your communication and help employees direct their attention to the things that matter most at this particular time, which shouldn’t be confused with telling them what and how they should do it.

Focus on growth and development

4. Focus on growth and development

Organizations cannot grow when their people don’t grow. As mentioned in a Gallup article on employee development: “Employee development is the difference between a growing company and an increasingly irrelevant one.” However, to ensure that the people within an organization can go through meaningful professional growth, the leadership of a company should invest time and effort into a well-thought-out development plan.

A cohesive development strategy will broaden your employees’ expertise, which, in turn, will allow you to extend their responsibilities, making your business processes more efficient. However, it’s important to underline that delegating a broader spectrum of responsibilities to your employees does not mix with micromanagement. Managers should learn to trust their employees and be confident in their abilities in order for them to grow professionally.

5. Be mindful of what you recognize and reward

Micromanagement is a fundamentally corrosive practice that only aims to punish and undermine a person’s confidence without really recognizing a person’s strengths or decision-making. Turning away from this form of excessive control comes with learning to appreciate and reward people for good performance and sound decisions, even if they lead to an unfavorable outcome.

Old-school business environments tend to praise managers for a collective’s success, which is definitely what helps keep the micromanager phenomenon alive and well. Should organizations decide to leave this tendency behind, they must strive to focus on the people and reward their collaboration and individual contributions.

The bottom line

One thing is vital to underline—micromanagement harms the very core of what could be a collaborative and engaging work environment. To avoid this practice, managers should exercise clarity and transparency, as well as invest time and effort into their employees’ professional development. While micromanagement may have some short-term benefits, the consequences of this practice will often outweigh them significantly in the long run.

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