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Consequences of Micromanagement

Submitted by on July 28, 2010 – 8:05 pmNo Comment | 42,116 views

micromanagementMicromanagement is a curse word in the world of business. What is micromanagement? This article is written with the micromanager in mind, if you micromanage you are destroying your work environment. You are standing in your employee’s way. Why do managers get carried away in details? Do you know if you are micromanaging in the first place, and what are the signs to look for? I am going to take a look at the signs of micromanagement presence and the short term and long term effects of micromanagement.

Why is Micromanagement a bad thing?

First I want to discuss the problems with micromanagement. If you go to Wikipedia to look up the word micromanagement you will find the word “symptoms” in the table of contents. Symptoms are used with sickness and illness. Cancer and diarrhea have symptoms. Like cancer MM will kill team spirit and enthusiasm. High morale and enthusiasm are strong driving factors when it comes to motivation. When you MM you will end up killing those forces that really give your employees momentum. If one employee is micromanaged, several will still end up seeing you as a micromanaging boss, as rumors travel fast, and let’s face it micromanagement is easy to spot. It displays a lack of trust, and most employees need trust to thrive.

“Bad Management Behavior”, “Lack of Recognition”, “Lack of Respect” and “Management not allowing the employees to make decisions”. These are 4 out of the 10 top reasons why people quit their job. All are signs of micromanagement. I will get back to you later what you need to do when you feel the urge to micromanage someone.

Why do you Micromanage in the first place?

Let’s think about it for a minute. Most likely you feel dissatisfied with the employees’ performance or results. You feel that you could do a better job yourself, or you want to force someone out of the company by setting too high of standards. You might be under pressure yourself to get high results? Are you insecure about your own competence, or insecure about the employee’s competence?

Internal reasons for Micromanagement
Managers personality, detail oriented, emotional and job insecurity, strong drive for results, lack of trust.

External reasons for Micromanagement
Some external reasons for MM is Company culture, performance pressure, financial hardship and conscious choice of tactics.


The Effects of Micromanagement

MM is a destructive way of leadership and you will destroy trust, you will kill morale, and you will damage your line of communication. I work in Telecom and so I think that micromanaging fills your life’s land lines with noise. You will get disengaged employees and creativity will drop. Employees self esteem will drop, and over time performance will drop as well. All in all you are a large contributor to a hostile and dysfunctional work environment. You need to ask yourself if it is really worth it. I wrote earlier that the employee that is being micromanaged needs to take a look in the mirror before blaming the manager for the micromanaging behavior. The same goes for you, take a look in the mirror and figure out the true reason why you micromanage in the first place. You need to know if you are increasing performance or if you are destroying it.

What should you do instead of micromanage?

What drives employee engagement? This is my spring board when it comes to deciding what you should do at work in any scenario. Engaged employees produce amazing results, there is no doubt about it. Look at Zappos, look at Southwest Airlines, look at any other great company; employee engagement is the main building block of a winning culture. Lack of employee engagement is like building a tower on water, you might manage to build a large one, but it won’t go as high as it would with a good foundation.

Keyword: Trust
Trust is important to drive employee engagement. Have faith in your employees and leave them room to perform. You will soon see an increase in productivity. Trust will also give you valuable feedback, as MM leads to employees shutting down the communication lines to you. If you are satisfied with the overall performance and you want to keep the employee in the future, implement trust.

Keyword: Time
You spend a lot of time micromanaging, is it worth it? Could you be better at time management? Should you focus on growth strategies instead of being detail oriented?

Keyword: Communication
When you micromanage you are shutting down communication lines. Your employees will stop talking to you in fear of becoming micromanaged. Laying low will become a strategy in your office, resulting in no communication, no engagement, no growth and you will not have enough information to do your own job good enough.

Implement Trust, Free Time and Communicate

Display trust, become a better communicator. Try to motivate performance and use positive feedback to accomplish your desired outcome. Be clear about what you want in results. Engage the employee in conversations, and LISTEN, ask questions and listen. Talk with the employee and display trust until you are sure that the message is understood. You need to know that MM is damaging on the work environment and micromanagement is a result of unhealthy communication skills.

You Care

One of the reasons why you are a control freak * is that you care more about the outcome or results than your employees. At least you fool yourself to think so. But is it true that you care? If so, you need to show that you care in a better way. You will think of your own interference as constructive and beneficial, in reality you are in the way. I assume you care, if not you might be driven by the feelings of power and superiority. In that case you might end up losing your own job soon.

* I needed to use the term control freak, because if you read the Micromanagement article at Wikipedia you will find a “see also” section. There is one link: “Control Freak” :)

Micromanagement is Psychology

If you feel that you lack the trust of your employees and you have been micromanaging for a while, there is hope. You need to know more about motivation, employee engagement, personality traits, human behavior and a bit of positive psychology. There are several books on the topic and the evidence that micromanagement is devastating is humongous! Being humble, apologizing to your employees and being open about your challenges is a good start, as you need to start building trust, and it takes time. Try to find a mentor or coach that can help you before it is too late, after all, you want to do a good job too.

I got a lot of questions about micromanagement after writing a post called ”Dealing with Micromanagement”. I wrote about how you as an employee should deal with micromanagement, but soon realized that you where interested in more views on this subject, and I hope this article will help you to realize your challenges. Or it could help you to understand your boss, if you are the one being micromanaged. I also want to specify that micromanagement does not need to be bad and might be necessary from time to time, good communicators manage to pull this off in a positive style without the negative fuzz.
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