The damaging effects of micromanagement
Micromanagement is undoubtedly a subtle but significant problem in many work environments, with almost 60% of workers reporting that they have experienced micromanagement at work. Micromanagers exert excessive levels of influence over workers, and effectively reduce their ability to organise their own time, tasks and priorities. It may not appear that micromanagement is violating any rules or regulations, but in fact employers all have a responsibility to protect their employees’ welfare, and the many negative aspects of micromanagement can cause this to suffer. Here are a few of the potentially devastating effects that micromanagement could be having in your workplace.
Research suggests that most office workers are fully productive for less than three of the eight or more hours they typically spend at work each day. The reasons for this lack of focused productivity are varied, but micromanagement is often one of the culprits. Constant surveillance and corrections slow down work flow, and being unsure that a manager will accept an autonomous decision makes employees less likely to go ahead without seeking approval, even on minor issues.
Increased staff turnover
Many employees cite micromanagement as an issue that causes them to leave their job, and the most capable employees are, unsurprisingly, the most likely to find the issue unbearable. What’s more, staff turnover can make the issue worse over time, as managers feel the need to monitor new and less experienced staff more closely.
A survey from AccountTemps claims that 68% of staff who said that they had been micromanaged also said that it had had a negative impact on their morale. This is unsurprising as high morale is often linked to a sense of autonomy and respect as well as having your ideas recognised and appreciated by others. Micromanaged staff tend to feel that their manager neither respects nor appreciates them.
Lack of trust
There are few workplace practices that make employees feel a lack of trust quite as much as micromanagement. It tends to give employees the impression that managers do not trust them to make decisions, even on basic things such as which task to tackle next. This lack of trust can become mutual over time, as it is difficult to trust in someone who does not show trust in you. Micromanagement can consequently lead to a distrustful, and therefore disloyal, attitude throughout the workplace.
Micromanagement can discourage teamwork, as employees end up working directly with the micromanager, and certainly do not feel like they have the autonomy to discuss their work or throw ideas around with other colleagues. This can have a devastating impact not only on employee satisfaction but also on creativity and collaboration, both of which can potentially lead to better performance and higher profits.
While it is hard to link micromanagement and health problems directly, any worker who experiences unnecessary micromanagement will tell you that it can be a stressful way to operate. A lack of autonomy has been linked to mental health issues, and there is evidence that autonomy and longevity are closely linked. Even chronically ill people may live longer when they have a sense of autonomy. It is reasonable to suggest, then, that micromanagement in the workplace is bad for employees’ long-term health.
Innovation is often the result of employee empowerment and engagement, the encouragement of creative thinking, and free collaboration with colleagues. All these things are stifled by micromanagement, leaving little room for employees to innovate. Micromanagers tend to make it clear that they do not want employees stepping out of their tightly defined roles or coming up with changes, improvements and new ideas.
Job security is often questioned
Operating under the critical and untrusting eye of a micromanaging boss, many employees feel that their job is at stake on a daily basis. This can breed disloyalty and a lack of commitment, and is also a factor in the increased staff turnover that we mentioned, as workers constantly keep an eye out for a better or more secure position.
Personal relationships suffer
The stress and frustration that come with being micromanaged can often spill over into other areas of life, causing damage to personal relationships, in and out of the work environment. This can, in turn, cause further stress at work, creating a downward spiral in terms of emotional wellbeing and work performance.
The effects of micromanagement can indeed be devastating, having a negative impact on employee welfare, productivity, efficiency, and even a company’s bottom line. It is well worth watching out for, and eliminating wherever possible, for the benefit of everyone involved.