Maybe you’re the perfectionist in charge and you overheard employees describe you as too nitpicky. Or maybe you’re concerned one of your administrators could be creating problems. Micromanaging means trying to control every little detail all the time, and it has a negative impact on morale. The Journal of Experimental Psychology reports when employees feel they’re being micromanaged, they perform at a much lower level.
But how do you differentiate between strong leadership and being too controlling? Employers search far and wide for people who take responsibility and initiative, who go above and beyond, who are extremely detail oriented. How do you know the difference between someone who shows hands-on leadership and a problematic micromanager? Look for these four signs.
These Behaviors Are the Norm
Micromanagers want complete control over everyone on their team and every aspect of the projects with which they’re involved. They do things like the following:
- Check frequently on what staff members are doing, not always to be supportive, but to make sure employees are on task and doing things the way the manager wants them done. A micromanager might repeatedly stop by offices or cubicles or hyper vigilantly monitor active time within online work environments.
- Require frequent changes to little details that don’t really have an impact on the outcome.
- Take over tasks or projects because they feel like they can do it better or faster, and it would take too much time and effort to explain what they want to the staff member originally assigned the task.
- Demand progress updates and documentation much more frequently than necessary.
- Almost always express dissatisfaction with or want changes to deliverables.
- Want all decisions run by them before anything is finalized.
- Stay stressed and overworked because they have trouble delegating.
Micromanagers have a hard time trusting staff to do their job and do it well. Their actions signal they think for something to be done right, they have to be directly involved with every detail.
Employee Motivation Plummets
Because they’re so controlling, micromanagers squash creativity and diminish engagement. Staff starts to think, “She’s just going to find fault with my work anyway, so why should I do my best,” or “Why should I even bring up that idea when he’s just going to insist we do it his way.”
Employees feel like they can’t do anything right, and that their hard work doesn’t matter. Over time that can start to erode their desire to meet deadlines or to go above and beyond. They start second-guessing their abilities. They may be hesitant to take risks or think outside the box. They don’t feel valued, there’s no room for growth, and every day there’s the potential for more criticism.
Turnover and Sick Days Increase
There’s a growing body of evidence that indicates work-related stress has a huge impact on mental and physical health. It can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, decreased immune response, gastrointestinal disorders and a range of other problems. Plus, some people overeat, smoke or turn to substance abuse to cope. Unhealthy behaviors make them feel even worse, and make it more likely they’ll get sick.
One by one, employees may wake up, realize they don’t want to do it anymore, and decide to take their skills somewhere else. Then their knowledge and abilities become available to your competition and the cycle starts over with your new hires.
If you have a manager who exhibits the behaviors listed above, and you’re seeing an increase in sick days and resignations, that’s a sign micromanaging is becoming a problem.
Teams Fail to Meet Deadlines
Micromanagers cause bottlenecks because they can’t do the work of an entire team. If work can’t proceed until they’ve signed off on every decision, processes bog down. When managers take on tasks they should delegate, everything takes longer. And, the fact that they sweat the small stuff way too much can get in the way of working efficiently.
Sometimes micromanagers aren’t conscious of what they’re doing and how it’s impacting their team. Communication and leadership training can make a huge difference. Other times it stems from compulsive behavioral issues or deep confidence deficits, issues that require more comprehensive interventions.
Good managers communicate clear expectations, then empower employees to do their best work and reach organizational goals. They offer feedback and support while showing trust in employees’ abilities to deliver. They encourage creativity and innovation and foster trust and loyalty within their organization.
When East Texas employers need to hire strong leaders, they call Brelsford Personnel. You can learn more about what we offer on our Employers Page.