What is Micromanagement And How to Stop Doing it

May 1, 2023

You know that you'll stop going to the gym after three months of paying for it, that eating healthy would be easier if you didn't see people around you constantly snacking. Or if your favourite date didn't involve a pizza buffet and leftover Christmas sweets. So why not propose doing something beneficial, achievable, and good for you but for everyone on your team? Today, we put on our elf ears to talk to you about the best invisible gift you can give to your organization.

The quickest way to lose talent is by micromanaging it. Looking carefully at all the details in your work makes a difference. But doing it without delegating even a single element of the work can also exhaust your team. Being impeccable is excellent, but obsessing over perfection is a nightmare that hinders tasks. No one works the same as anyone else, and if you manage to clone how you do stuff, what creativity and innovation can you expect? The most beautiful Christmas trees are the ones with gifts wrapped in different papers, ribbons, and shapes!

We have mentioned micromanagement many times in our posts about leadership. Today, we will talk about how necessary and healthy it is for a leader to let go of control and understand the damages it can cause to their company.

What is micromanagement?

What is micromanagement

Micromanagement is precisely what it sounds like, controlling in detail everything that each team member does. Whether they telework from Lapland with Santa Claus or their desk next door doesn't matter.

While it may seem very useful and positive, the reality is that micromanagement is a form of "leadership" that negatively impacts the manager, who is too controlling, and the employee, who is losing motivation with every command received.

Imagine a manager asking someone on their team to create an onboarding plan for new hires. They ask if they need anything and offer their help with any questions that may arise. They even ensure that the person has the necessary resources for all the information about the company. Is this okay? It's perfect! The employee will get to work, and they can review it together when done. There are no interferences or orders that slow down the process. On the other hand, if the manager tells the employee exactly how the onboarding plan should be, reviews every move they make, corrects anything different from how they think and would do it, and constantly demands information about their progress, what are they achieving? However, this approach could be more effective for employee development.

As you may have guessed by the reputation micromanagement is gaining at this point in the post, micromanaging is like giving a lump of coal to your team every year. It's a management style with many disadvantages.

The Disadvantages of Micromanagement

  • Suspicion

Wanting to control everything implies a lack of trust. And there are only a few things more frustrating than that. Feeling that your manager doesn't trust your abilities and capabilities to get something done without their supervision only undermines their motivation.

  • Dependency

Controlling every action causes employees to always need their manager's approval before moving forward. This leads to the supervisor having too much responsibility, excessive levels of stress, and a team requiring more coordination, security, and motivation. 

  • Poor performance

Doubt in interpreting instructions, loss of autonomy, and lack of trust impact work performance. 

  • Time waste
micromanagement time waste

Among other things, micromanagement causes two people to do the same job. It is a waste of time for the manager, who could be leading instead of supervising, and for the employee, who, instead of focusing on their work, is forced to justify themselves repeatedly and wait for the next set of orders and revisions.

  • Higher turnover

Employees don't leave their company; they leave their manager. Employee dissatisfaction caused by micromanagement will inevitably lead to higher staff turnover, which means more expenses for the company and a poor employee experience that results in a worse employer experience. Remember that anyone who leaves a company discontented will tell others, which is why building up great feedback culture is crucial.

  • Limitation of creativity

When you control all tasks and how your team works, you limit their creativity. The team will never be creative if everything they do is exactly how the manager wants it. What if the elves have a more efficient or beautiful way of wrapping gifts? Employees need space to thrive and develop in their roles. Micromanagement creates behaviour patterns, ideal if you want robotic elves rather than innovative people with ever-growing potential.

How to avoid micromanagement? 

Practice delegation! It's important to assign tasks based on each collaborator's strengths that allow them to learn and grow. By delegating responsibilities, you will empower, motivate, and generate engagement.

When delegating, focus on the goal and ensure they have the necessary resources and training.

  • Clear expectations: The more straightforward the objectives, the easier it will be for your team to define how to achieve them.

However, explaining the goal is pointless if you are the only one that can achieve it. So instead, allow your team to demonstrate their skills and let them establish how to reach that goal successfully.

  • Hire the right people (with the proper onboarding): This may seem obvious, but you're less likely to micromanage someone with the appropriate skills than someone who needs to align with the organizational culture.
micromanagement hire the rifght people

If you evaluate your candidates based on the required competencies, hire people who fit your organization's tone, and dedicate time to their onboarding, it will be much easier for them to acquire the perfect autonomy for you to delegate with confidence.

  • Give feedback: We know we mention this advice all the time. But feedback is like yeast; give it some room, and good things will grow. Everyone needs and wants feedback. It's essential to highlight improvement opportunities and the success of projects that have worked so people can see the merit of good feedback.

Don't forget to recognize your team, give positive feedback, and highlight the contributions of each member to bring motivation and confidence to the surface.

  • Ask and learn: Asking is not knowing less. How would Santa Claus know what you want if he didn't ask? The best leaders ask, and the answers provide knowledge and strengths of their teams. Would you like to carry out this project? What do you need to carry it out successfully? Do you have enough time to plan?

In Conclusion

In conclusion, micromanagement is a management style that negatively impacts the manager and the employee, leading to poor performance, low motivation, and higher turnover. To avoid micromanaging, leaders should practice delegation, focus on clear expectations, hire the right people, and give feedback regularly. By doing so, leaders can empower their teams, increase motivation, and foster an environment that promotes creativity and innovation. Remember, micromanagement is like giving a lump of coal to your team, and delegation is the best invisible gift you can give to your organization.

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