"Micromanagement is the process of taking away someone's autonomy and making them feel like they are constantly being watched and judged." - The Muse
In light of this citation, micromanagement is a management style prevalent in the workplace, regardless of sector or industry. According to Pearl Zhu, the impact of micromanagement is perhaps tangible in the short run but more often causes damage in the long term. In this article, I will discuss the impact of micromanagement.
Micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager carefully monitors and controls the work of their subordinates. This may entail keeping tabs on their development, going through their work, and continuously offering feedback. According to Investopedia, micromanagement entails giving excessive supervision to employees instead of informing a worker what has to be done and by when a micromanager will closely monitor actions and frequently criticize that worker's work.
A growing body of research contends that the impact of micromanagement may be detrimental to worker performance. According to a Harvard Business School study, micromanaged employees suffer from stress, anxiety, and despair. Additionally, they were more inclined to quit.
A survey by Accountemps (a staffing agency) found that 59% of employees worked for a micromanager. 68% reported a decline in morale, while 55% claimed it negatively affected their productivity. When you look at both these problems, it is easy to deduce that they will lead to a larger problem: employee turnover.
The impact of micromanagement can be costly to the employer. A retention report published by the Work Institute found that replacing a worker may cost organizations up to 33% of the employee's annual salary. When retention is not prioritized, the figures can add up quickly.
It is critical to be aware of the impact of micromanagement if you are a manager. It is crucial to take a step back and consider if you need to micromanage your staff. Giving your staff the flexibility to conduct their duties without too much interference is often preferable. In the next section, I will discuss some of the overall impacts of micromanagement.
Related: Micromanagers: The Signs to Look for
Impacts of Micromanagement
Micromanagement might result in less creativity and innovation, according to a study by academics at the University of Toronto. The same study found that micromanaged employees had lower innovation and problem-solving abilities.
Decreased Productivity: Micromanaged employees may believe that they are not valued or trusted, which might reduce output. Additionally, people could believe they cannot take chances or be creative, resulting in less productivity. In 2022, Roggero published that productivity naturally declines when an employee is subjected to constant scrutiny and receives much input and modification.
A decrease in productivity will reflect on the overall performance of the business. Therefore, both employees and employers feel the impact of micromanagement. A recent Hubspot study states that low productivity costs companies almost USD 1.8 billion annually. The same study found that an overall decrease in productivity affects the GDP or the economic output.
Increased turnover: A report published by Management Consulted stated that 70% of employees think about quitting due to micromanagement; surprisingly, 30% quit. Employee turnover may rise due to workers being unable to advance under micromanagement. Additionally, they could experience tension, anxiety, and resentment, which might contribute to higher turnover.
I have observed that micromanagement demotivates workers. Employees become frustrated because they must be more cautious throughout the day, which demotivates them. They finally start looking for alternative employment possibilities out of frustration and quit the company whenever they locate one. This will spike turnover rates.
Related: Managing and Reducing Employee Turnover
Reduced creativity and innovation: Micromanagement can impede innovation and creativity. When workers know their work will be thoroughly inspected, they may be reluctant to take chances or try new things. This could result in a workforce that is less creative and productive. Did you know businesses that disregard innovation risk falling behind, missing out on market possibilities, and losing their competitive edge? [Read more].
Damaged Reputation: I have observed that a damaged reputation is one of the underrated effects of micromanagement. A damaged reputation due to micromanagement can directly be linked to employee turnover. Employees who have departed due to micromanagement may be less likely to suggest their company to others.
According to research by the Society for Human Resource Management, 70% of employees who report being micromanaged are less inclined to give their employer their recommendation.
Increased stress and anxiety: Employees that are micromanaged often endure extreme stress. Globally, stress has a significant impact on workers. Gallup's State of the Global Workplace 2021 Report states that 57% of employees experience stress. Due to micromanagement, employees may experience constant pressure to perform and the belief that their work is never up to standard. This may result in more tension and worry, negatively affecting their personal and professional lives. [Read more].
Stress and anxiety are an impact of micromanagement that also affect business performance. Employees who are under stress show less interest in their jobs. According to Gallup, 80% of people are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work, partly due to stress. According to Gallup, lack of involvement generates $8.1 trillion in lost production annually for the world economy.
Despite its vast negative impacts, did you know that some of the world's Fortune 500 companies have been known to micromanage their employees? This may tempt others to argue that micromanagement is a wholly beneficial management style. I list for you some of the companies that have a reputation for micromanaging their employees:
McKinsey & Company: Global management consulting company McKinsey & Company has come under fire for micromanaging its staff. Workers have reportedly requested long hours, and they claim that bosses are always keeping an eye on them. [Continue].
Amazon: For years, Amazon has faced allegations of micromanaging its staff. Employees claim that their bosses are constantly observing them and that they are obliged to track their time down to the minute. [Read more].
Tesla: Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, is reputed to be a micromanager. He has been accused of micromanaging the company's production line and is renowned for sending emails to employees at all hours of the day. [Read more].
Walmart: There are interesting reviews on the Glassdoor employee review of Walmart. An assistant manager is quoted to have said, 'Micromanagement has gone past extreme and is now out of control.' Another employee stated, 'micromanagement at its very best.' Employees claim that they must adhere to stringent policies and guidelines and that their superiors always watch them.
Google: In the past, Google has been accused of micromanaging its staff. Employees claim that their superiors are continuously observing them and that they are obliged to use particular software and tools. [Read more].
Related: Why you Should Never Micromanage
Tips to Avoid Micromanagement
Here are some tips on how you can avoid the impact of micromanagement.
Trust your employees: Rely on your staff to perform their tasks competently. Give them the authority and duty to take the initiative and come up with solutions on their own.
Provide clear expectations: Ensure that your staff are aware of the standards you have for them. Give them precise objectives and due dates.
Set aside time for regular check-ins: Set up check-ins with your staff to review their work and get input. You can do this to stay updated without micromanaging.
Be supportive and encouraging: Encourage your staff to take chances. Inform them of your presence and desire to see them succeed.
Over and above the tips above, it is crucial to interrogate why you micromanage. Are you concerned about making errors? Do you worry about failing? You can begin to remedy your micromanagement once you know its underlying causes.
In conclusion, micromanagement is a management approach characterized by much control and supervision. Employees may suffer from decreased job satisfaction, higher stress, and decreased productivity, among other negative effects. It is critical for managers to be aware of the drawbacks of micromanagement and to steer clear of it whenever possible. Instead, concentrate on giving your staff the necessary resources and assistance to succeed. By doing this, you may foster an environment at work where your colleagues can thrive.
Here are some research papers that support the impact of micromanagement:
- Micromanagement and Employee Performance by Harvard Business School. Link;
- Micromanagement and Creativity. This is a book chapter by Dr Michael Zweig, a professor of organizational behaviour and human resource management at the University of Toronto. The chapter was published in the book "The Psychology of Creativity" in 2012. Link;
- The Effects of Micromanagement on Employee Job Satisfaction and Turnover Intentions by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Link;
- Micromanagement and Employee Well-Being by University of California, Berkeley. This study was published in the journal "Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes" in 2015. Link;
- Micromanagement and Employee Engagement by the University of Southern California. The paper was published in the journal "Journal of Applied Psychology" in 2019. Link.