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Stop Being the Elephant in the Room: How Micromanaging will Crush your Team

Posted on September 24, 2015

There are few things as destructive to productivity in a company as the practice of micromanagement. Managers do serious harm to employee morale when they meddle in their reports’ work and immerse themselves in the details of every project. This distrust kills employee initiative and increases turnover.

It’s also harmful to the company’s bottom line. Managers are in a leadership position to survey the bigger picture and not concern themselves with every little detail. It is a waste of a manager’s talents to focus on easy tasks their reports are fully capable of handling.

Unfortunately, the last person to know about micromanaging is usually the person doing it. If you are a manager who is concerned about your performance, it’s important to look for these warning signs in your behavior:

- Never being satisfied with deliverables

- Feeling frustrated that reports are doing things differently than how you would have done them

- Focusing on details and making multiple corrections

- Always wanting to know where people stand and what they are working on

- Insisting on being cc’ed on emails

While paying attention to details is important, it is destructive when it is applied all the time without being warranted. Managers have to strike a balance between being hands-off and staying involved in the day-to-day.

How Does Your Team Do When You’re Gone

Why do micro-managers care about every small detail? Usually it stems from insecurity. Micro-managers feel they may be deemed inessential if they don’t dictate every step their reports take or personally proofread each document. There’s a role for those tasks in an organization but it’s not one for management or leadership. By focusing on minutiae, micro-managers hold themselves back.

Managers perform best when they focus on items they deem high-priority and delegate the rest. A good manager trains and delegates, trusts their team, and is receptive to their ideas and approach. The key to doing so is focusing on “what” rather than “how.” Managers can have expectations for deliverables and should share that expectation with their reports. They should, however, avoid fixating on how to get to that final result. Managers should envision what the final outcome should look like but avoid providing precise instructions.

Finding The Value

Unlocking employees’ true value is often found in giving them these guidelines and objectives and then turning them loose. Good managers realize they are not required to know all the answers or the path. They should fixate rather on results and, when confronted with business questions, select the best answers from their reports.

With this in mind, a good course of action is to guide and inspire your team by issuing them challenges. Using an employee suggestion software, these challenges can be clearly articulated and the possible solutions can be gathered and evaluated as part of an open and transparent process. As much as micromanagement destroys trust between manager and employee, a good employee suggestion program can rebuild trust by fostering open communication.

Employees thrive in environments where they can be creative, find solutions on their own, and are recognized for a job well done. When managers can stop holding employees’ hands at every turn and watching them over their shoulder, it is a relief for all involved. Managers can focus on the big picture and foresee issues before they arise and employees can provide feedback and ground-level direction for achieving these higher goals.

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