The close observation and monitoring of your employees’ work is what a good manager does, is it not? Keeping an eye on things, being there to observe and take measures, becoming a part of the solution are all the prerogatives of a good manager who wants his business to succeed. Yet, why is everybody talking about micromanagement as if it was a bad thing?
The difference between good management and micromanagement is the manager’s level of obsession for control. If your employees suddenly look stressed and frightened every time you enter a room, you may stop for a second and wonder whether you are a micromanager or not.
Essentially, one can define micromanagement as a small form of dictatorship: you want to control everything, know everything, and get involved in every little aspect of your employee’s work. You constantly breathe down their necks, you want an explanation and a report for the smallest of actions and decisions, and you believe you can do things better than any of them.
It does not take a genius to understand that this type of behavior is toxic for the employees and the business itself, but in the following paragraphs, we will discuss the top five reasons you need to revise your attitude and take a step back from micromanagement if you still want to run a business.
1. You Make People Want to Quit their Jobs
If you think that you can do the work better than anyone else why have employees in the first place? Once you hired the best people for the job, you bickering about their performance and surveilling their every action tells them one thing: you do not trust them.
Since you show no trust and no respect for other people’s efforts, you nurture negative emotions related to low self-esteem, low professional value, and high performance anxiety. Is this what you want?
Recent studies showed that employee turnover intentions and rates link directly with the employees’ trust in their manager and their manager’s trust in them. In other words, the more pressure, lack of control, and distrust your employees feel, the more likely they are to start looking for a new job.
2. You May Disrupt Your Own Business
Think about it this way: if you spend most of your time breathing down the neck of your employees you lose precious time doing what you are supposed to do as a manager. Breaking the time flow and choosing the wrong priorities over the important ones disrupts the core of your business.
One of the key-aspects of micromanagement is fear of delegation and, worse, fear of the poor results of the delegation. We cannot say this better than researchers in 2013 already did: “there is a direct link between effective time management and performance of business generally. Business managers are therefore encouraged to stick to their time management practices as a strategy to survive in a competitive industry.”
You can spend your time more efficiently by managing the business instead of micromanaging your employees, and you should start by convincing yourself that you made the right choice when you hired the people you delegate with specific tasks. While nobody says you should cancel all types of work overviewing, you should focus on what people can do to grow the business, not on what you could have done in their stead.
3. You Endanger Your Health and Others’
By micromanaging your employees and every aspect of the job, you are likely to end up overworked, stressed, and exhausted. From a medical and psychological standpoint, professional stress is one of the leading causes of anxiety, depression, burnout, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and many more.
If you feel stress and suffer physically from it, now imagine what you do to your employees. Yes, the job is hard and life is hard in general, but unless you want your people leaving you en masse or have major health problems, you need to stop.
Researchers from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business looked at how stress affects employees and the results are grim. Jobs that come with high stress and low control link with 15.4% increased chances of death. Working in a micromanagement-type environments means high levels of stress and demanding jobs, but low control from the employee’s part (because you have all the control).
Unless you want to dig an early grave or pay hospitalization for your colleagues, learn to delegate, trust people, focus on results instead of minutiae, and let go of the things you cannot control.
4. You Kill the Creativity in Your Business
A good manager delegates a task to one of his top talent employees. The employee works to find solutions, strategies, and means of solving the task in an efficient and successful manner. The manager is proud that the employee succeeded and the business is flourishing.
The micromanager delegates a task to an employee and tells the employee exactly how and when to perform it, what tools he needs, what resources to use, and what deadline he should follow. If the results are poor, it is, of course, the employee’s fault.
This is a classic mistake and, unfortunately, many managers entertain it. If you delegate and just wait for the result, your employee might get creative, find a novelty solution, think outside the box, be more productive, and even surprise you with a great outcome.
If you delegate and control the process every step of the way, you simply kill the employee’s curiosity, initiative, creativity, will to take action, sense of responsibility, assuming of own mistakes, and so on.
If you want to hear the hard truth, dictators do not like the people to be creative and find new and innovative solutions to problems. Nobody likes dictators, either. While the HR and business world is rushing in offering entrepreneurs new ideas on how to reward (and thus keep) the creative and out-of-the-box employees, because they make the business work, you treat them as if they were drones.
Top talent does not fare well when it needs to act like robots. In a healthy working environment, you should entertain novelty, problem-solving skills, personal development, independence, empowerment, flexibility, and learning from own mistakes (without punishment). This is why Apple and Google are where they are.
5. You Slow Down the Overall Performance of Everything and Everybody
This only comes as a logical conclusion of what we said so far. You waste your time executing what your employees should execute or by supervising the smallest detail of their work, forcing them to follow your own patterns, and make your mistakes or take your decisions. Your job as a manager is, however, to set general guidelines and directions. Good leadership means developing your employees while they develop your business.
From the outside, people may see your business as going through a rough patch if the manager is the one spending more time completing daily routine tasks than investing in the team’s education, formation, professional and personal growth etc. Your job is to inspire and reward your team and allow its evolution through knowledge and experience.
Micromanagers are not yet toxic managers, but they can slowly transform. You can put a stop to it by acknowledging your micromanagement behaviors and become mindful of the negative impact they have on you, your colleagues, and your business.
Jennifer Clarke is a financial advisor who has been in the health care industry for nearly 4 years. When she’s not working with numbers, she’s writing on her personal project, HealthCareSalariesGuide, a blog-type website that aims to give accurate depictions of health care salaries.