Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Effect of Micromanagement

Micromanagement is, "to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details" - Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary.

In general, micromanagement has a negative meaning and implication, and is viewed unfavorably by supervised employees. Let's discuss the issues of micromanaging employees and how to identify if you are a micromanager.
Most people who have been in the workforce for any length of time have occasionally been exposed to a boss who micromanages. A micromanager is the manager who must personally make every decision, take a lead role in the performance of every significant task and, in extreme cases, dictate every small step the workers take. The micromanager hovers over people who are trying to get their work done and rarely, if ever, seriously considers their ideas and opinions.

Some Critical Effects of Micromanagement
The micromanager often punishes mistakes instead of counseling & educating staff. No effort is made to challenge employees with learning situations. This type of management can inhibit employee development. In the end, employees will learn to hide their mistakes and avoid taking risks.

Most employees are unhappy in the work place when they are micromanaged. Unhappy employees are less productive than happy employees. In addition, this may cause a high turnover on your team as unhappy employees leave, which will further affect your team's productivity.

A manager who has done nothing to develop one or more potential successors is usually viewed as a poor candidate for promotion. The manager who is perceived as poor at delegation and staff development is often not considered for promotion to a level where delegation takes on even greater importance.

You Might be a Micromanager if you...
  • Cannot delegate effectively or delegate at all.
  • Often hand out only the easy, boring or dirty tasks while delegating nothing of interest or importance to your team.
  • When you do delegate, you put the employee in a position of deciding nothing of significance without prior approval.
  • Hand out work, supposedly delegating, but hover instead, providing detailed direction, dictating methods rather than providing proper preparation, making the employee responsible for results and not allowing him or her to figure anything out and learn by doing.
  • Hand out a task, but pull it back at the first sign of trouble, failing to provide the employee with a condition essential to growth and development: the reasonable freedom to fail.
When Micromangment may Actually be Helpful
Most managers have to deal with a poorly performing employee at some point. Poor employee performance is a concern because it affects team and organizational performance.

The goal of improving a poor performer is to improve their performance. A means to doing so is to meet privately and frequently with the employee to discuss the performance issues. Assign tasks and provide specific direction, expectations and a timeline to the employee. Then, monitor, measure and discuss their performance during those frequent meetings. To some, this approach seems like micromanagement, and it may well be. The difference is that once the employee's performance improves, you will meet with them less frequently.

Letting Go of Micromanagement
The difference between managing and micromanaging is the focus on eliminating the “micro.” Start by looking at your to-do list to determine what tasks you can pass on to an employee. Clearly explain what the task result and due date should be, but don't dictate how the employee should work on the task. Ask, don't tell, your employee about how they plan to approach the assignment. You might be surprised that their approach, while different, may yield great results.

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David Schuchman


  1. As someone who has always worked alone, I find this very helpful as I am about to hire a first employee.

    1. Congratulations and good luck with hiring your first employee!

  2. Managing people is 20th century. In the 21st, we manage resources, instead.

    1. A very interesting observation. I agree that management in the 21st century is more than only managing people.


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