Jacobs (2019) says micromanagement usually has a negative connotation. Unlike bullies, micromanagers use their obsessive attention to specific information to assert undue power on others through relentless feedback and control. As productivity declines and turnover rises, detrimental effects of micromanaging on employee motivation and morale become evident in time. Micromanagement produces a working atmosphere that is inefficient and fraught with unease. Employees who feel their job will never be good enough lose confidence and trust in their ability to carry out the tasks needed for their role.
Collins et al (2002) says “micromanagement can be advantageous in certain short-term situations, such as while training new employees, increasing productivity of underperforming employees, controlling high-risk issues, and when there can be no question of who is in charge. However, the costs associated with long-term micromanagement can be exorbitant.” Micromanagement may be associated with symptoms such as poor workplace morale, high staff turnover, decreased productivity and patient dissatisfaction. The adverse effects are so strong that the top three reasons workers leave are classified as such. At the end, micromanagement leads to a department's reduced growth capacity.
Managers who emphasize too much on day-to-day operational details may miss the broader picture and fail to plan departmental expansion. Most micromanagers ultimately find themselves at substantial risk of burnout. Changing micromanagement-related actions can be a lengthy and difficult process. As with any issues, the first step is to recognize that behavior needs to be modified, and to understand how it affects the organization negatively. Some of the negative effects of micromanagement highlighted by Jacobs(2019) are explained in the section that follows.
Micromanagement leads to decreased productivity. Constant control along with constant tweaking and feedback decreases efficiency. Employees have to slow down in their work processing and applying the ongoing feedback and workflow changes. It may also cause them to second-guess their ability to independently complete the tasks. This leads to a staff being dependent on their boss for direction while completing their job. In essence, micromanagers retain all the authority employees need to take responsibility for doing their jobs. We also risk losing the value of the unique experiences , abilities, and strengths of their workers as they have trained them primarily to do as they are told to do. Those who micromanage often lack chances to support their companies further as they put more effort into their workers' lower-level careers, rather than the more meaningful work they are responsible for (Jacobs,2019).
It leads to increased employee turnover. Chronic micromanagement also results in people leaving their jobs. It breaks the connection between manager and employee. Continuous supervision of what they do, constantly going through every aspect of their job, and redoing their jobs the way the micromanager would do drains talented workers and sends them to other places looking for work. Owing to frequent recruiting and re-training personnel the department's momentum is diminishing. The time, energy , and money needed to recruit and train replacements can have a negative effect on the firm's bottom line.
Employee morale is reduced due to staff micromanagement. Employees tend to feel a lack of control when micromanaged. They will slowly lose the ability to go the extra mile for a mission and take pride in what they do when that happens. They would be restricting themselves to what their boss requests. Essentially, they avoid trying and their level of commitment decreases. Unintentionally or deliberately, micromanagers prevent others from making choices by setting aside their workers' expertise and knowledge as they take care of their jobs.
There is loss of trust due to micromanagement. Micromanagement wrecks confidence. Particularly when it comes to doing their work, workers should feel respected and appreciated by their manager and organisation. When micromanagers stifle the decision-making of an employee, it gives the impression to the employee that the manager does not trust them or believe in their abilities sufficiently to complete the task in hand. Micromanagers will make the workers feel impotent, unable to use their own power, experience and effort to work out issues. Without trust workers are becoming resentful and disloyal. They either take their talents to another organization, or they stay and become deadweight, awaiting orders from their boss.
Teamwork ceases to exist because a micromanaged workplace discourages teamwork as employees work less with each other and more or only with the micromanager. This can make employees feel undervalued and unappreciated. Teamwork creates synergy, empowers, and promotes better communication to achieve goals faster. Micromanagers hinder collaboration by refusing or being unwilling to delegate, and their penchant for undermining and immersing themselves in others' jobs. Their acts protect imagination and mock their employees' talents. The company as a whole loses out on the rewards of creating a highly successful team which is both competitive and addresses issues creatively.
There is reduced innovation. Workplace involvement stimulates creativity, and employee satisfaction tends to improve contribution levels. Micromanagement discourages workers from achieving results in ways that work for them. That makes them feel less accountable and less engaged about their results. Micromanagers underutilize their employees’ skills, knowledge, and talent by controlling their every movement. We leave no room for criticism for workers to build their skills and to enhance their own processes. When micromanagers view their workers as order-takers, their capacity to innovate is diminished. Demanding creativity when jumping in to make decisions and putting pressure to work in a certain way does not create an innovation-friendly work climate.
Health problems arise due to micromanagement. Over time micromanagers take heavy toll on the health of their workers. Micromanagement raises the burden on workers, which can affect both work and home life. An employee who has a hard time at work may give a hard time away from work to family and friends, thus harming those relationships. This can also cause smoking, drinking, and overeating for employees. That in effect leads to other health issues such as increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and issues with sleeping. Employees whose boss suffers verbally or emotionally abusive mental pressure and reduced self-esteem. Being controlled at work with no decision-making capacity makes employees more likely to become depressed.
Collins et al (2002) emphasizes that carrying out a self-assessment of one's leadership style in this process may be helpful. The real challenge is to strike a balance between fulfilling everyday duties efficiently and preparing strategically for the future. This role usually requires proper allocation of roles, and this is a daunting job in itself. Proper task delegation may be the primary key to tackling micromanaging behaviour, but some other suggestions include: 1. Create a vision of what will become of the department in the future. 2. Hiring candidates with the right job skills. 3. Develop a checklist of the policies and procedures. 4. Establish clear communication lines between managers and subordinates. 5. Expect mistakes on the part of employees.
Mistakes are an important process in the learning experience and should be regarded as an expense on training. Employees allowed to be self-directed are encouraged to be more successful. Staffing issues such as low morale and high turnover will decrease; staff satisfaction will increase simultaneously (Collins et al, 2002). Managers will exercise influence over the workers to follow specific direction and instructions. Once their employees learn their duties and responsibilities, they should be encouraged to perform their job independently while asking questions as needed to perform tasks (Jacobs,2019). This will result in work satisfaction, improved productivity and increased morale on the part of the employees. Although certain micromanagement characteristics may be appropriate to perform those duties at work, they do not provide any benefits to efficiency or employee engagement.
- Jacobs, S. (2019). Micromanagement Negatively Affects Employees - Here’re 7 Ways. [online] eLeaP. Available at: https://www.eleapsoftware.com/7-ways-micromanagement-negatively-affects-employees/#:~:text=Micromanagers%20over%20time%20exert%20a [Accessed 13 Jul. 2020].
- Collins, S.K. and Collins, K.S. (2002). Micromanagement--a costly management style. Radiology Management, [online] 24(6), pp.32–35. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12510608/ [Accessed 13 Jul. 2020].
Ifeoma is a Business Analytics and Research Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
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