For any of us who have worked under a micromanager, it will come as no surprise that micromanagement can be harmful. It’s frustrating, to say the least, and can have cascading impacts throughout the organization.
Let’s take a look at some of the negative impacts of micromanagement:
- It negatively impacts employee morale. When people feel their every move is criticized, they’re clearly not going to be happy. People crave trust and autonomy, so this can even lead to health problems for employees, further exacerbating the issue.
- It drives good employees away, even in times of high unemployment. High turnover means higher costs for hiring new people, including the costs of required training and waiting to return to full productivity levels.
- It damages the employment brand, making it more difficult to recruit.
- It reduces productivity, as employees start doing only as much as is required to get the job done and leave (which is, of course, the opposite of what micromanagers are probably aiming to achieve). Micromanagement also reduces productivity because employees may try to be extra precise to ensure the output is exactly as specified, though they could have been more efficient in a more relaxed atmosphere.
- It harms employee motivation levels, as their efforts aren’t seen as good enough.
- It can stifle innovation, as employees are afraid to bring up ideas that may conflict with the boss’s ideas.
- The boss’s time is being used inefficiently also; micromanagement takes a lot of time—a lot of wasted time.
How to Reduce Micromanagement in the Organization
To reduce micromanagement, it can be helpful to understand what causes it. Obviously, it can be as simple as a person feeling the need to micromanage or believing his or her way is the best way to accomplish the goal. But it can also occur because of something more reasonable.
For example, when a leader is under pressure to get something done perfectly, it can lead to micromanagement. Or, when an employee doesn’t perform well on a project, the manager may feel the employee needs more direction and may go overboard, simply intending to help the employee improve.
Here are some ways to reduce micromanagement in the organization:
- Ensure you’re hiring the right people so managers don’t feel the need to intervene due to a lack of performance. Review the hiring process to ensure you don’t simply hire someone who is willing to take the job but rather someone who is a good fit. Competent employees shouldn’t have to be micromanaged.
- Train management and leadership on how to communicate well with employees, and give feedback that is motivating instead of demoralizing.
- Set goals appropriately. Train managers on how to help employees set appropriate goals.
- Pay attention to whether complaints are coming from a specific group or department; the problem may be with an individual manager.
- Train leaders on how to give their team more autonomy and challenges, both of which can help with morale and go against micromanagement.
- Ensure there are appropriate employee recognition programs in place.
- Assess incentives in the workplace to be sure they’re not incentivizing the wrong things. Make sure individual incentives aren’t too strict in terms of requirements, as this can be a sign of micromanagement.
What else would you add to this list?
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.