Micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes and/or controls the work of his/her subordinates or employees. It is generally considered to have a negative connotation but is still commonly observed as an accepted management across many organisations. Rather than giving general instructions on smaller tasks and then devoting time to supervising larger concerns, the micromanager monitors and assesses every step of a business process and avoids delegation of decisions. Micro-managers are usually irritated when a subordinate makes decisions without consulting them, even if the decisions are within that individual’s level of authority. (Source: Wikipedia)
Why do managers micromanage?
There are no specific reasons that make managers micromanage their teams. Some of them micromanage because they are worried about the quality of their team’s work. Others like to stay more in touch with the entire project so that they can give inputs as and when required, and not necessarily when someone asks for it (which becomes a problem). Such managers tend to set up frequent meetings or may even casually drop in to assess work as they fancy. Micro-managers unconsciously value their perception of work more than the creative freedom of their team members.
How to Spot Micromanagement
Unwillingness to delegate work
Delegating tasks usually helps managers divide their work and distribute it among their team members as per their capabilities and expertise. It is meant to help achieve the goals in optimum time with best possible quality. However some managers do not like to relinquish their authority and hence refrain from delegating work. There could be hundreds of reasons for this behaviour. e.g. they might be afraid that some of their team members may actually perform better than they themselves can or the opposite case wherein managers don’t expect anything but poor quality delivery from their team members etc. Such individuals fail to recognise that learning to delegate can make them better managers and keep the people they oversee engaged in their work.
Constant monitoring of employees
Suspicious managers are a bane to themselves, their team and their organisation. They have a firm belief that if you don’t keep an eye on your employees, they may definitely misuse company resources. So instead of simply keeping an eye, they go a step further: they pry! There are managers who get CCTV cameras installed in their office just to monitor if their employees are working on their desks or if they are moving around. A person’s productivity and performance levels cannot be solely determined by the number of hours they sit in their chairs! But such measures will eventually create lack of trust and drive employees out of the company.
Low employee engagement
Most employees don’t take well to being micromanaged. They feel lesser and lesser inclined to take any initiative as it is evident their managers are going to scrap these ideas and have their own way. When employees lose interest, their engagement levels drop significantly and thus they often do one thing – quit. Companies who conduct exit interviews, may find that employees who quit point to micromanagement issues as the reason they want to leave. Although, frustrated employees may not be bothered to share even this information if they have been pushed to an extreme extent.
Overly dependent employees
Micro-managers have a tendency to lord their opinions and ideas on their team members. They are incapable of understanding that other employees may have worthwhile ideas. In such a case team members simply give up and are not bothered to come up with ideas. They begin to rely on their managers for guidance on what should be done next. Talk about spoon feeding at this level. Rather than dictate ideas, managers should encourage employees to come up with innovative ideas.
One of the reasons managers tend to micromanage is because they want perfection in all aspects of their work. They do not trust anyone else to achieve this level of perfection. So they take it upon themselves to keep a close on eye what every team member is working on. If not satisfied they start modifying and reworking on some tasks till the time it doesn’t meet their expectations. Basically this causes an increase in redundancy in work and subsequently leads to missed deadlines.
Conducting endless meetings
Some managers want a constant update on everything their team is working on. While the intention behind it may not be wrong, but the frequency and duration of such meetings may put a damper on most employees. Often, instead of determining progress, these meetings are turned to sessions for finding faults in team members’ work. If there is anything specific to be discussed that involves only a few members, then only these should be called to the meeting. It doesn’t make sense to call each and every member of the team even if they are not related to the actual work being discussed. It wastes everyone’s time and reduces efficiency of their work over a period of time. If you want to really just get an update on what’s going on, stand up meetings are great to doing so.
Do you know of any other symptoms to spot micromanagement? Let us know in the comments.