manage employees

Why Micromanagement Doesn’t Work

No one wants to feel like they are under a microscope at all hours of the workday. When managers end up scrutinizing every aspect of their team’s work, it can cause friction for all involved. The adverse effects of micromanagement can be immense, especially within a small business where everyone works within close proximity of one another.

To offset these effects, it’s vital to learn how to identify a micromanager and how to stop micromanaging from happening in your place of business. This is what you need to know.

What is Micromanaging?

Micromanaging, or micromanagement refers to a hands-on management style whereby the manager closely observes, dictates, and controls their employees’ work. These managers are involved in every aspect of a task, even when delegated to another employee.

Many professionals see micromanagement as a negative management style as it fails to give employees the freedom to act on their own within the workplace.

What are the Signs of a Micromanager?

If you feel that you or one of your staff are a micromanager, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the various characters of such a management method. Sometimes management doesn’t realize they are micromanaging until they come face-to-face with their own management style.

Therefore, some signs of a micromanager to be aware of include:

  • The inability to step back from a task once assigned to a worker
  • Every decision must be approved first by the manager before implementing
  • Focuses more on control of their employees rather than working with them
  • Not looking to employees for input or opinions
  • A higher turnover rate of employees
  • Lack of new leadership within the department or company

Examples of micromanagement

Jack works for a marketing agency and takes directions from Sarah, who oversees his department. A big project is underway so Sarah delegates various tasks for Jack to complete. However, in the three weeks leading up to the project’s due date, Sarah is constantly checking in on Jack, changing his work, driving him to stay late, and nit-picking the choices he has made.

Jack begins to feel suffocated by her attention to detail and inability to let go of the tasks she's handed over to him. He feels she doesn't trust his work and starts asking Sarah for permission for any decisions he must make on the project. When the due date rolls around, Jack is burnt out and has begun to doubt his ability to produce good work.

In this situation Sarah is micromanaging Jack, causing negative effects that can greatly reduce the employees’ ability to work independently. She cannot give up control or trust in her employees to get the job done right, creating double the workload. As a result, Sarah is pulled in all directions, Jack’s work is losing quality, and they are both suffering for it.

The Negative Effects of Micromanagement

When a manager micromanages, they may think they are successfully covering all of the responsibilities for a business. In reality, they could be hampering theirs and their team’s effort to improve the company. These effects of micro-management will end up working against the manager, employees, and the business as a whole, and will result in:

The smothering of freedom, problem-solving, innovation, and creativity

  • Low morale and employee satisfaction
  • Damaged trust between managers and employees
  • Decreased initiative of workforce
  • Increased burnout of staff
  • Low productivity levels
  • Unhealthy work culture
  • Low retention rate of employees
  • Rising dependency on management

With this list in mind, it's easy to see why the workforce can feel unenthusiastic about micromanagers. Such effects can be detrimental to organizations if they don't evolve. But how can supervisors improve their style of management? Is there such a thing as a management process that is the opposite of micromanagement?

What’s the Opposite of Micromanagement?

On the other end of the spectrum of micromanagement, there lies macro-management. Macromanagement takes the opposite stance from a micromanager in that it is a very hands-off management process.

macromanager gives their team the freedom they need to get the job done without stifling their creativity and problem-solving processes. Macromanagement is about knowing when to step in to help subordinates and step back to let the team members figure things out for themselves. This type of manager focuses on the end goal and works back from there, trusting in their team to do what they were hired to do.

That being said, some professionals believe that macromanagement can be just as faulty as micromanagement. For some companies, the management style swings too much in the opposite direction, offering too much freedom and not enough guidance. Finding a comfortable middle ground of supervising is best.

Management can offer support and guidance, yet provide enough freedom and flexibility for the employees to get the job done using their own skills and intuition.

How to Deal with Micromanagement for Employees

In order to deal with micromanagement, you first must be able to identify it. By understanding the triggers of micromanaging and consciously stepping away from such triggers, it can offset the immediate response of control and demand.

Set limits to how many times the manager can check in with the team members and oversee the current state of the project or task. When scheduling employees and delegating tasks, it's always a good idea for managers to periodically check-in. But one mustn't overstep the boundaries of supervising. By scheduling a set amount of check-ins, it allows everyone room to navigate their responsibilities while still showing support and guidance.

It's always advantageous to managers to remember that employees were hired for a reason. They were the best candidates to get the job done using their skills and experiences- so let them do what they were hired to do.

How to Stop Micromanaging

To stop micromanagement, one needs to alter their style of managing altogether. Many professionals look to employee management techniques and strategies to help them positively manage their workforce.

Others seek to learn the ways of project management and become a Project Management Professional. This certification helps individuals successfully oversee projects and project teams by understanding the processes of managing all types of resources, including humans.

Small business owners can opt to use software solutions and tools to streamline internal processes and keep track of finances, employees, and metrics all in one place. Software like QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Time offer solutions for accounting, payroll, inventory, and employee scheduling rolled into one.

By implementing automatic software in your business’s internal processes, you can ensure everything is getting done without the need to micromanage. Join the millions of users who have improved their business management using QuickBooks Online for free today.

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