What is Micromanagement? Are You Being Micromanaged?

what is micromanagement?

Days are gone when micromanagement was working well and it was result-driven. In this era, the result of micromanagement is vice versa. According to Financialsamurai survey, 70% of people leave their job because of either a difficult boss, unfair & unpleasant boss or a micromanager.  Since micromanagement has become a principal reason for quitting the job for many young employees, we have chosen this topic to publish as it will be helpful for them.

What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is the process where a boss closely monitors the work of his subordinates/teammates by controlling, observing, and interfering with the team in each and every situation. Generally, it is considered to have negative connotations since it seizes the freedom of employees. A person who scrutinizes the team and interferes in every activity performed by the team to take over the decision from them is called a micromanager.

For example, your team is working on a project and you are monitoring each and every activity instead of providing them freedom. Also, without the support, you are expecting the sooner result. This is called micromanagement.

Micromanagement also involves monitoring the break timing, every time productivity explanation from each team member and calculating the productivity on an hourly basis, etc. If the business is small or you are a start-up, then it may help to a certain extent but when it comes to bigger organizations, micromanagement has a huge negative impact.

Who is a micromanager? Identify one when you see him/her!

A micromanager is a person who has no trust in his subordinates and monitors closely each and every activity. He hardly provides the freedom to his employees or subordinates to take decisions and believes in top-bottom decision-making process. He wants to have too much involvement in the employees’ activities, hardly satisfied with employees’ work, hardly appreciates employees’ hard works, instead of working with them he orders, asking for a frequent update on the progress, etc.

Most of the managers don’t know that they are micromanagers. Though they are proud of what they are doing, sometimes it turns towards a bad situation. Since most of the employees don’t like a micromanager, they will lose interest in work and the productivity may get affected.

Are you unknowingly micromanaging your team? Subtle signs of micromanagement

Are you micromanaging your team without even knowing it? Here are a handful of red flags we feel you should check out:

  • You expect your subordinates to rework on the project from scratch if you don’t like it.
  • You have a plethora of approvals pending as you don’t prefer to ask for help from your colleagues.
  • Your perception towards other’s work is negative and you are hardly satisfied with your subordinates’ work.
  • You often involve yourself in every meeting especially agent level meetings.
  • You command every employee to copy you in every email.
  • You regularly work without taking a vacation as you think no one can do your work.
  •  You rarely develop a strategy and don’t provide the opportunity for the team members to come up with new ideas.
  • You often take one on one meeting with the employees and ask for the productivity increment instead of understanding the bottleneck.
  • You always message each employee regarding work beyond working hours.
  • You need to know what your employees are doing and you have the access to their calendars to track them.

Based on the above points, you can score yourself if you want to know whether you are a micromanager or not.

If you are at 10 or above, then you are a typical micromanager. In this case, you need to change yourself a lot to manage the team without being a rude manager.

If you are between 5 to 9 score, then you are a borderline micromanager. In this stage, no need to work hard to change your micromanagement attitude. You just need to go back and review yourself to find out in which situation you exhibited your micromanagement attitude. You can change yourself accordingly.

If you are between a 4 to 1 score, then you are not a micromanager. But there are certain situation that has made you a bit micromanager. Those can be changed.

If you are nowhere between any above points, then you are an awesome manager. In fact, you are not a manager but a powerful leader. 

Why do bosses tend to micromanage?

According to Havard Business Review, the two main reasons are found why a manager does micromanage. 

  • They feel that work will be done and employees will be inspired if they are connected to individual employees
  • They want to be in the restriction of doing their old job though their old employees are good at work.

Apart from these, different people have expressed their own opinion on micromanagement.

According to Mark Murphy, many micromanagers are afraid of losing their hard-earned reputation if they don’t scrutinize their team members’ activities.

Another reason for being micromanager is to be seen as experts and authority figures. But for 48% of bosses, fear is the main reason for micromanaging things.

As per “Are you motivated by power or achievements” test, 41% of leaders (out of 5000 leaders) have a strong desire for power. Though it is good but it has become the primary reason for micromanagement.

Apart from the fear factor, another reason is found for micromanagement is ego. Most of the powerful managers start their careers as individual contributors where they have expertise in their domain. But when they start managing a team, they are in the impression that any wrong step of their team member may make their team down. Instead, they prefer to micromanage the team to make it perfect every time.  

A few signs of micromanagement

Sometimes the managers micromanage things and you are not aware of it. There are different signs you can notice when you are being micromanaged.

  • Obsessed about work updates
  • Doesn’t allow others to make decisions
  • Avoids delegation
  • Finds difficult to transfer knowledge to teammates
  • Appreciation for work is a rarity

Obsessed about work updates

When you are working on a project and you are constantly getting requests from your boss regarding the progress on an hourly basis. For example, you have mentioned in the last update that the execution process will take 24 hours and still you are getting continuous update requests from your boss. This is one sign of micromanagement.

Doesn’t allow others to make decisions

As explained above, most of the managers scared of losing their reputation and that is the reason they do micromanagement. If your manager is not allowing you to take a decision, that means he has no trust in his team and wants to take all the decision authority. 

Avoids delegation

The micromanagers don’t trust their team when it comes to work. They feel that no one can do this job properly apart from them. Sometimes, they feel insecure about their position and power if the team doesn’t perform well. Therefore, they are reluctant to delegate the task.

Finds difficult to transfer knowledge to teammates

Most of the freshers are inspired to work efficiently because of their boss. Generally, a good manager has a habit of teaching new things to their team members, providing them the freedom to work independently. But when you encounter a micromanager, you can see this sign as well. He doesn’t prefer to teach new things and avoid providing the freedom to work without him. Though he doesn’t verbally express that he doesn’t want to teach but he pretends to be busy.   

Appreciation for work is a rarity

A good manager always looks at the end result and appreciates the efforts. In the case of a micromanager, he scrutinizes each stage of the project and comes up with new complaints every time instead of waiting for the end result and letting them do their work independently.

Negative effects of micromanagement

There are several negative effects of micromanagement as micromanagers are always tyrannical bosses. Here those are:

  • It affects employees psychologically
  • It demotivates employees
  • It drives employees towards a negative discussion about their boss
  • It creates a lack of confidence
  • Deterioration of Productivity
  • It increases employee turnover
  • Loss of innovation
  • It creates fear of Job security

Here’s how you should deal with micromanagers

Most of the organizations have micromanagers. Where ever you go, you will find such type of person. Instead of escaping from micromanagers, it is better to deal with them. That is the reason we have presented tips to deal with micromanagers.

  • Understand the reason
  • Confront the Micromanager
  • Avoid Surprises
  • Document Your Work

As mentioned above, there may be several reasons for being a micromanager. It may be fear of losing reputation or it may be an ego issue. Try to understand the reason for being a micromanager and work accordingly.

If you find there is an ego issue or fear issue, confront your manager to prove him wrong. Show him/her confidence that you can do it successfully. Explain to him/her your strategy and your target date of delivery in order to gain confidence.

Micromanagers feel insecure and that is the reason they scrutinize each activity of the team members. Don’t wait for your boss to come and ask you for updates. Try avoiding surprises. On a regular basis give all the updates to your boss and also tell about the next plan. Once s/he is updated with all the information, s/he will not watch all the activities of each member.

This is last but not least. It is important to document all your work as most of the micromanagers don’t see the positive contribution of the employees. Documenting work will help you to justify you when you will be asked questions. A good manager always looks for a positive outcome and if it doesn’t turn well, they look for the positive contributions of the employees. But it is vice versa for a micromanager. In order to avoid future questions, it is good to document your work. 

Wrapping Up

Though the control and guidance is required in the organization, a manager should not focus only on those factors. Along with guidance, a manager should let the employees learn new things and inspire them by appreciating their work. If a manager restricts employees from anything, s/he should be transparent while conveying the messages. If the situation is sensitive, then the manager should talk positively and encourage the employees.