Let’s be honest: nobody likes to admit being a micromanager. When someone asks about your greatest weakness, it’s a little easier to jokingly respond with: “Well, I can be a bit of a control freak sometimes.” But if your management style includes excessive supervision over your employees’ work, there may be slightly more to it than that. Today we’re discussing how micromanagement affects company culture, some traits to watch out for, and how to counteract these characteristics.
Causes and Effects of a “Helicopter” Management Style
Many studies show that for some, micromanagement is an internalized characteristic fuelled by insecurity, fear of failure, and anxiety. Others may use it as a defence mechanism due to previous negative experiences. In many cases, it’s a sign of dysfunctional workplace culture, where the manager or leader feels intense pressure from their superiors and passes it on to their subordinates.
This management style rarely receives praise because it usually results in negative consequences. For example, it creates lost job satisfaction and higher turnover. A 2020 Retention Report published by Work Institute showed that 12% of U.S. employees quit due to manager behaviour (e.g. micromanagement) in 2019. Micromanaging also leads to lower team engagement, collaboration breakdown, and overall loss of morale.
Employees who feel like their managers don’t trust them and treat them like children will quickly lose motivation, affecting their work quality and efficiency. This hostile atmosphere may even drive them out of the company, which is costly to an organization.
7 Telling Traits of a Micromanager
You might be a micromanager if you exhibit one or more of the following behaviours:
Hoarding assignments: refusing to delegate tasks because of fear that the employee may not meet your standards.
Stifling autonomy: not allowing workers to make decisions without you, even if the situation requires it and the workers are qualified to do so.
Dictating workstyle: requiring staff to perform their duties precisely according to your specifications.
Constantly criticizing: closely scrutinizing and picking apart a team member’s deliverables, to a point where the work never seems good enough.
Having to be in on everything: needing to be at every meeting or requiring employees to cc you on every email.
Monitoring everyone excessively: closely watching your workers’ behaviours and being extremely aware of their whereabouts.
Requiring frequent updates: requesting constant updates that honestly don’t add much value.
Note that the above behaviours don’t automatically make you a bad person. But if you want to be an effective manager or team leader, they’re probably not helping. In the next section, we’ll look at some tips to improve.
4 Tips for Managing Micromanagement Tendencies
Approach micromanagement selectively
Contrary to popular opinion, micromanaging isn’t always a bad thing; there may be some situations where it’s an appropriate approach. For instance, you may need to use it during a worker’s training phase or to support an underperforming employee temporarily. The key is to assess each situation and choose a suitable management method. Also, always remain positive and treat your workers with respect!
Provide leadership training
Micromanagement often comes from a lack of confidence in a worker’s ability to carry out their duties properly. But while you might fear a worker’s incompetence, their credentials, experience, and track record may prove that they’re perfectly capable. In that case, it’s important to ignore your feelings and look at the evidence objectively.
On the other hand, you might be right – perhaps the employee isn’t yet quite up to the tasks you want to give them. If so, work to empower them through leadership training. Their abilities will improve, and you’ll gain greater peace of mind as a result.
Agree on clear expectations
At the start of a new project, set clear expectations. The discussion should include what a successful outcome will look like, how frequently workers should provide updates, and what timeline the work will follow. It’s essential to avoid dictating these things to your team members. Instead, establish mutual agreement upon all of these points so that everyone feels confident.
Show your workers genuine appreciation
Showing your workers that you value and appreciate them can mend your relationships with them and rejuvenate their spirits. Check out these tips to learn how to get started today.
Need to Restore Team Morale?
If you’ve noticed a dip in your team’s overall mood, micromanagement might just be the culprit. Acknowledging it and applying the tips we’ve discussed can help get things back on track. In the meantime, work on bonding with your staff members and allowing them to experience a different side of you. Our team-building and culture enhancing platform has loads of workshops and activities to provide all the tools you need!