The Danger of Micromanagement and How to Stop It

by Granville Triumph

In a previous post, I discussed the keys to preparing for and managing growth, including proactively hiring the right people, developing a plan for outsourcing, and implementing processes that maximize operational efficiency and productivity. However, any benefits that could be gained by taking these steps will never be realized if managers refuse to delegate and empower employees.

Micromanagement is often viewed as an annoying, control-obsessed personality trait. Although micromanagement is on ongoing source of frustration, it is typically accepted as a management necessity. A micromanager refuses to delegate, insists on being involved in all meetings, and prefers to be copied on emails. A micromanager constantly checks in on the performance of every department and individual and analyzes minor details instead of staying focused on the big picture. A micromanager is never satisfied with the results and always believes he or she would have done things differently and produced a better result. In order for anything to get accomplished, a micromanager believes he or she must be directly involved in every decision.

The problems caused by micromanagement go far beyond annoyance and frustration. Micromanagement is a destructive force that can severely damage every part of the organization. Micromanagement slows growth and hampers productivity because progress is constantly stalled by interruptions from managers. Employees are afraid to innovate or take risks because they fear managers are just waiting for them to fail. As a result, opportunities to create competitive advantages and increase revenue are missed.

Micromanagement creates a culture of mistrust and second-guessing that erodes employee confidence and engagement and increases turnover. Remember, people leave managers, not organizations. The most talented, high-performing individuals typically prefer to work for managers who empower employees to take on responsibilities, make decisions, and work independently.

If you fit the description of a micromanager or have micromanagers in your organization, put yourself in the position of your employees. Think about how difficult it would be to do your job if someone was constantly hovering over your shoulder and checking your every move. Think about how toxic your work environment would become if you were constantly receiving calls, emails and texts from your manager. Think about how all of these factors would affect business operations.

If you or a member of your organization’s leadership is a micromanager, you first need to recognize the problem, and the micromanager must be willing to make changes. Invite input from people who have been micromanaged. Apologies may be in order. Identify exactly what is being micromanaged and why, as well as the effect of micromanagement. Determine what processes and projects should no longer require the micromanager’s input at every stage, but make sure expectations are clearly articulated in order to maintain accountability. Keep in mind that you’ll need to be patient with employees because they’ve never been able to work independently. It may take time for them to adapt their work habits.

The ability to delegate responsibility and empower employees is one of the primary characteristics that separates managers from leaders. When micromanagement stops, you untie the hands of the talented people you’ve hired and make it possible for individuals, management and the organization as a whole to grow and thrive.

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