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POPin Blog

How Micromanagers Create Macro Problems

Nobody likes having a control freak of a boss who micromanages every aspect of the workday. Micromanagers are prone to aggressively oversee the work of their subordinates, to the point of demoralizing everyone around them. Micromanagers hurt productivity because they feel the need to not only explain every task to employees, but then perform those tasks as well. Time would be better spent giving employees more autonomy in their jobs, and redirecting management’s attention toward customers or other aspects of the business. To be more effective, managers should recognize the early warning signs of micromanagement vs. effective management. Micromanagers tend to:
  • Ignore the experience and expertise of others
  • Get stuck focusing on details, rather than the big picture
  • Insert themselves into duties assigned to others
  • Resist delegation of authority or tasks
  • Discourage decisions from others, even those with decision-making authority
  • Fixate on less important items, yet require extensive documentation of every detail
  • Ask to be copied on all emails
Micromanagement can have a devastating effect on an organization. Micromanagers often overshadow the incompetence of weaker employees, who feel smothered and unable to develop their skills. Those employees soon lose the initiative to propose fresh ideas or join new projects. In addition, micromanagement transfers accountability from employees back to the boss, making workers feel less responsible for their actions and decisions. Over the long-term, micromanagement damages employee engagement. What is the point of diving into one’s duties when the boss will eventually dictate how things should be done anyways? Dissatisfaction turns to frustration, and frustration boils over into anger. At this point, many workers decide to quit or look for new jobs when they become fed up with a helicopter boss who constantly hovers over them. As a result, organizations are saddled with higher staff turnover rates and the cost of training new employees. To avoid the pitfalls of micromanagement, leaders should frequently voice their expectations in clear terms, but also give people the authority to carry out those expectations in their own ways. When employees are given control over their jobs, they feel more empowered and inspired to work hard. Managers should also develop a direct feedback loop with team members. Anonymous surveys or crowd-solving sessions can be an excellent way to uncover lingering problems or resentments. Cross-evaluation assessments are another valuable tool to gather confidential data from direct reports, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. The best managers become experts at training new people, and then delegating authority to them. The worst micromanagers suffer from insecurity which prevents them from giving up control to others. At its root, micromanagement reflects an essential lack of trust in others. This is an unhealthy behavior in general, but it can become a debilitating weakness for leaders who need to bring their teams into successful alignment.