Micromanagement: Everyone knows the term. Some fear and even avoid any company that’s associated with the word. But what is it, really? By definition, micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes or controls the work of subordinates or employees. Micromanagement generally has a negative connotation. In reality, most of us see it as management’s attempt at digging its fingers deep into the pie of those actually doing the work. It’s a way for management to ensure that tasks are performed in a very precise manner in other words, management’s way. Problem is, this isn’t always the right or most productive way of doing things. And that’s just one of the issues with micromanagement. Let’s take a look at some of the other dangers that come along with this style of management and why you should avoid it.
Danger No. 1: Loss of control
When you micromanage your staff, the management tools at your disposal become very narrowed, until the only tool you have in reach is control. And the funny thing about control is that when it’s your only means of management, you usually end up losing it. It’s important to realize that there are many valid management styles and every staff member reacts differently to each. Takeaway: When you drastically limit your style you also limit your ability to communicate and, in the end, your ability to manage.
Danger No. 2: Loss of trust
Micromanagement will eventually lead to a massive breakdown of trust. Your staff will no longer see you as a manager, but a despot whose only desire is to wall up its staff until the only thing they see is the job. This crushing act breaks what little trust already exists between employee and manager. When trust is gone, two things can happen: A serious loss of productivity, along with a loss of employees. Yes, the latter is a worst-case scenario, but happens. Takeaway: Remember, trust is a two-way street: Your staff must be able to trust you as much as you trust them. Micromanagement destroys trust.
Danger No. 3: Dependent employees
After being micromanaged, your staff will begin to depend on you, rather than having the confidence to perform tasks on their own. Micromanagement makes your team feel like they can no longer handle the work without your constant guidance. You have to remember that those employees were initially hired because they brought something to the table; skills, talents and insights all unique to each and every staff member. When your employees aren’t dependent upon you, they’ll continue to think on their own and when employees have the freedom to think on their own, great things can happen. Takeaway: If you micromanage too much, your employees’ skills, talents and insights can fall to the wayside, leaving you with a team that only knows how to do what it’s told. You must allow your employees the freedom to think and act on their own.
Danger No. 4: Your own burnout
Here’s one big, yet simple reason that micromanagement is something you should never practice: It’s downright exhausting. Looking over so many shoulders every day will very quickly burn you out. Eventually you’ll grow to hate your job, straight down to the very company that employs you. Hate it enough and you may even end up leaving it, never wanting to revisit a management role again. Sure, burnout is always a danger in any job. But the energy burned while micromanaging will ignite that wick faster than anything. And don’t forget, that burnout can infect those beneath you. Managers are not the only victims of burnout; as you flame out, you will very likely take your staff with you. Takeaway: Micromanagement is not only bad for your employees, but it can take a terrible toll on your physical and mental health. Take time to step back, breathe and realize that your team can handle its tasks without you constantly hovering over shoulders.
Danger No. 5: High turnover of staff
Let me put it simply: Most people don’t take well to being micromanaged. When employees are micromanaged, they often do one thing; quit. Considering the reasons why managers micromanage (ego, insecurity, inexperience, perfectionism, arrogance), it’s simply not worth the high turnover rate. Having to constantly train and re-train staff not only robs your department of momentum, it affects the company’s bottom line and destroys morale. Friendships are made and destroyed, and eventually this will crush the spirit of your staff. Takeaway: Micromanagement often leads people to quit.
Danger No. 6 Lack of autonomy
When you micromanage, your employees begin to feel like they’re losing their autonomy. When this happens, they’ll slowly lose the desire to do anything but that which you demand, and little more. No one will step outside the proverbial box or go the extra mile for a task. You hand those same people a certain level of autonomy and they will take pride in what they do and how they do it. Takeaway: A lack of autonomy will squelch growth in your employees. One of the goals of management should be to see staff members rise in the ranks.
Quote: Jack Wallen