Micromanager | 4 mins read

Are You a Micromanager? Disadvantages to Look Out For

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Lauren Christiansen

By Lauren Christiansen

Disadvantages of Being a Micromanager

People may remember the busy body in middle school who liked to boss everyone around. Or perhaps they shudder at the thought of the helicopter parent who stood over them while they were trying to do homework. Nobody likes to be controlled or nitpicked. It impacts confidence and leads to rebellious behavior. In the business world, micromanagers impact everything from turnover to employee engagement to performance levels.

A micromanager is a supervisor who scrutinizes team members' work to improve performance. Micromanagers are controlling individuals who can't trust others to do their jobs.

Rather than provide a list of instructions and tasks to complete, micromanagers will watch employees' every action and offer regular criticism. This does not produce the results the micromanager hopes. Team members grow frustrated and stressed out, which hurts productivity and the quality of deliverables.

So how can supervisors make sure they aren't micromanagers? While micromanagers vary in nature, they tend to have a few similar qualities. They resist delegation, discourage decision-making, ask for unnecessary updates, and scrutinize every detail of a project. They have unrealistic expectations and are frequently disappointed. They focus on unimportant details and don't provide the space for creativity and individual thought. Many times, they re-do all of the work that employees already finished.

So, why is micromanaging in the workplace so counterintuitive? Here are what experts say.

1. A Micromanager Wastes Time

Micromanagers are spending time on oversight and not enough time on important tasks. Rather than develop new products, fix broken systems, or create new processes, these individuals focus solely on others. Because micromanagers don't trust employees, they think subordinates cannot finish simple tasks.

Truthfully, most employees work more efficiently when they have greater autonomy. Micromanaging not only wastes the micromanager's time, but it wastes employees' time. Team members may be afraid to come to work or start on a new project and don't know how to tell this to their boss. This leads to a greater breakdown in communication that hurts the flow of operations and the quality of customer service.

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2. A Micromanager Decreases Employee Morale

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When employees feel micromanaged, they become more anxious. Rather than focus on the job at hand, they worry about how their boss will react to the final product. Employees start to believe they can't handle the job, which further hurts productivity and efficiency.

Micromanagers grow frustrated because the job done is never good enough and there never seems to be enough time in the day. This creates a never-ending cycle in which employee performance decreases because team members are not happy with their work life. Micromanagers grow frustrated and put more pressure on team members, who then feel unhappier. This leads to a higher turnover rate and discord between upper management and subordinates.

  • 89% of HR staff agree that ongoing constructive feedback increases employee morale
  • Highly engaged teams have a 21% increase in profitability
  • 96% of teams believe empathy from management is critical to employee morale
  • Disengaged employees cost $550 billion per year in the United States

3. A Micromanager Crushes Creativity and Efficiency

Because the micromanager can't let go and let employees be themselves, team members grow more anxious. They worry incessantly about every little mistake and constantly re-do work to please their boss. This stifles creativity and individuality in the workplace. This is particularly true for those in content writing or other artistic professions, as these roles require greater creative freedom.

Furthermore, micromanaging limits a team member's ability to cultivate better ways to complete projects. The worker becomes pigeonholed through excessive rules and supervision. Employees can't generate the sense of pride that occurs when an individual finds more optimal ways to complete work.

4. A Micromanager Depletes Employee Motivation

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When one wants autonomy but cannot obtain it, he/she tends to become upset. Employees may believe they are not competent enough to do their jobs, when in actuality it is all the fault of the work micromanager. While some employees like the extra direction, others feel as though their work will never measure up to expectations.

As a result, employees become less productive and stop caring. They turn in subpar work because they know the best efforts will be scrutinized anyway. At this point, the individual usually quits or is fired. Because micromanagers tend to act this way around all team members, their organizations have high turnover and low morale. This hurts sales and the quality of customer service.

  • Only 15% of employees feel motivated in the workplace
  • 66% of employees stayed at a job because of the organization's incentive plan
  • 87% of team members want management to encourage a balance between work life and professional life
  • 56% of HR managers are concerned that their top talent will leave in the next year

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Key Takeaways of Micromanager in the Workplace

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In conclusion, here is what to know about micromanagers in the workplace -

  • Micromanagers waste a lot of time because they focus too much on others. They don't prioritize key tasks and worry about mundane details. This decreases workplace efficiency and hurts productivity.
  • Micromanagers hurt employee morale. They don't give employees the autonomy they need to think outside the box and complete tasks on time. These organizations tend to have higher turnover rates and a lack of communication between management and subordinates.
  • Micromanagers eliminate creativity and individuality. They want every task done their way and don't allow employees to be their true selves. Team members cannot use new ideas to complete projects and tend to lose confidence in themselves.
  • Micromanagers hurt employee motivation. Team members don't believe they can ever live up to expectations, so they begin turning in subpar work. Micromanaged employees usually quit or get fired, which further impacts the turnover rate.

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