What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is a term that refers to a management style that is characterised by extremely close supervision and control of an individual's workload and output. Micromanagers generally avoid delegating decision-making authority to employees and may be overly obsessed with information gathering, requiring employees to produce regular, detailed reports that are frequently unnecessary.

What are the signs of micromanagement?

1. Every task requires approval

Before any work is marked complete, the manager ensures that they have seen it, made any necessary changes, and received their approval. Micromanagers can't stand the idea of giving their team complete control and ownership over their work, which is a problem.

2. Every email must include them as a cc

Conversations cannot take place without their knowledge, and they are concerned about being excluded from work-related emails and correspondence. They have a strong desire to know what is going on at all times and believe that being cc'd on all emails or being a part of all Slack channels related to their work is the best way to achieve this.

3. They are acutely aware of their employees' whereabouts

If they are concerned about where their employees are at all times of the day, or if they become frustrated when employees do not respond to their messages immediately, there is a good chance they have a certain degree of micromanager tendencies.

4. They enjoy editing employees' work

If they get a kick out of finding grammar errors in the copywriter's work, or if they get a kick out of fixing code in the software developer's work, they may have micromanager qualities as well.

5. They despise delegating tasks

"If you want something done right, do it yourself," every micromanager said. If they believe they are the best person for any job that the team members are doing, they should reconsider whether this provides employees with opportunities for growth.

6. They get worked up over trivial matters

Micromanagers enjoy stressing and obsessing over every small detail of a project. They're devoting valuable time to rethinking colour schemes rather than trusting their team to deliver high-quality results. A manager's role is to be a team leader, large decision maker, and general project overseer, not to dissect every component of every task.

Why is micromanagement harmful?

1. Employee morale and trust are harmed

Employees who are micromanaged lose their sense of autonomy, which leads to lower motivation and a desire to go the extra mile. When they believe that any work they do will be heavily criticised, edited, or questioned, they are less likely to put forth effort in the first place.

2. Employee turnover is increased

There is no doubt about it: people dislike being micromanaged. The next time micromanagers consider hovering over an employee's desk to request yet another update on a minor project, they need to ask themselves if it's worth jeopardising their relationship with that person.

3. An invitation for burnout

Micromanaged employees are three times more likely to experience burnout. Micromanagement causes burnout not only in employees who must constantly work hard to keep their bosses happy, but also in the managers themselves. Managers who are constantly obsessing over minute details, checking in on team members, and worrying about meetings they may or may not need to attend are wasting valuable energy that could be used much more productively.

4. Suppresses creativity

When people are constrained by rigid rules, there is little room for creativity and innovation. If managers constantly correct everything employees do and keep a close eye on them, they will be so afraid to step out of line and do something that will elicit a negative response that they will never try anything new.

5. Employees become reliant on managers

Employees become reliant on their (micro)manager when they discover that no matter how hard they work, their work is constantly edited and changed.  Employees will lose confidence and believe they can't do anything without the manager if managers act as if nothing can be done without their input. Millennials  want leaders who share the best interests of employees, particularly in their long-term growth, rather than leaders who stifle employee growth with dependent relationships.

6. Productivity is hampered

Micromanagement hampers employee productivity. When micromanagers insist on check-ins and edits at every stage of a project, they create a bottleneck that stifles processes and progress.

How can managers quit micromanagement?

Consider and implement the following suggestions and strategies for correcting the micromanager behaviour:

1. Use Areas of Responsibility instead of approving every piece of content

AoRs, or Areas of Responsibility, "are a way to capture the distribution of responsibility within the company." Instead of being distributed to the manager, responsibilities and authority can be distributed to different members using AoRs.

They assist managers in effectively delegating responsibility, relieving you of tasks and requests. Rather than assuming that they will be the one to approve a task or piece of content, AoRs ensure that everyone in the organisation can check and know exactly who on the team to contact.

2. Rather than requesting constant updates, use a cross-departmental tool

The manager and their team are both exhausted by the endless meetings and requests for updates. Use tools that can monitor the status of a project without interfering or directly communicating with anyone to combat their desire for constant check-ins.

They'll be able to see when files are uploaded and other project or task-related discussions occur, but they won't be able to satisfy their need for frequent, detailed updates. This will make the team feel more trusted and independent, while also reducing micromanagement.

3. Use asynchronous communication instead of expecting instant responses

Micromanagers are obsessive about time and keep a close eye on the clock. A micromanager will notice if an employee's Slack icon shows them as idle or inactive for extended periods of time.

Managers must ask themselves: Is the work being completed? If that's the case, there's no reason to keep a close eye on the clock or track employee's hours. They can consider using asynchronous communication methods if they need assistance in changing their mindset.

Synchronous communication refers to real-time correspondence such as phone calls, one-on-one meetings, video conferences, or in-person conversations. Asynchronous communication, on the other hand, allows for time to pass between sending a message and receiving a response. Email, tasks within project management tools, and comments within documents are examples of these formats.  This relieves pressure on the team to respond quickly and helps them manage expectations.

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