Bad habits often die hard. When bad habits are ingrained in us deeply and we don’t know how to change them, it feels overwhelming to even try. But changing bad habits, especially for managers and supervisors, isn’t impossible. It can be done.
One bad habit that needs to be changed is micromanagement. This happens when a boss, supervisor, or manager controls every aspect of an activity or task at work. Anyone can be guilty of it, but when managers micromanage, it has a huge negative impact in the workplace.
When managers micromanage their staff, there is automatically a loss of trust, because workers will only see you as a despot or a tyrant who controls everything at an extreme degree. When trust is gone, there is a loss of productivity, and the performance of employees can dip.
Employees who are micromanaged will lose the confidence to do tasks on their own and will instead depend deeply on their manager. Because of micromanagement, your team will feel like they constantly need your guidance. This will take a toll on your energy and schedule.
Unfortunately, a study by Accountemps revealed that as many as 59 per cent of individuals have been micromanaged by a boss at some point in their career.
Of those who reported being micromanaged, about 68 per cent said it decreased their morale, and 55 per cent said it hurt their workplace productivity.
Meanwhile, another report by Trinity Solutions showed that 69 per cent of those who were micromanaged considered changing jobs, while 36 per cent changed their jobs.
Micromanagement has such a detrimental impact on organisations that Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer conducted a collaborative study, revealing that it “stifles creativity and productivity in the long run.”
How to overcome micromanagement as a manager
If you began reading this article with the thought that you might be a micromanaging boss, you likely already have an inkling of the answer. If you've recognised that you do tend to micromanage, don't despair. While breaking the habit of micromanagement can be challenging, with the proper guidance, it is certainly achievable.
So how can you stop being a micromanager?
“If you're a micromanager, set goals at the beginning and have periodic check-ins to determine progress. A leader who micromanages has trust and control issues,” says Dr. Venessa Marie Perry of Health Resource Solutions, LLC. “To help manage that, hold weekly meetings to discuss progress to minimise the anxiety you feel from not having control.”
1. Release the grip on perfectionism. It's crucial to confront the reality: perfection is an elusive ideal. Once you embrace this truth, letting go of micromanagement becomes significantly more attainable. Multiple methods exist for accomplishing tasks or projects, so instead of dictating every detail in pursuit of your version of perfection, encourage your team to explore fresh approaches and experiment with innovative ideas. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
2. Master the art of delegation. Effective management involves recognising your team members' strengths and delegating tasks accordingly. Inability to delegate efficiently can lead to micromanagement tendencies. At the outset, you might stumble, but remember that practice is the crucible of learning and the foundation of knowledge.
3. Embrace the lessons of failure. Though it may appear daunting, the world doesn't come to a halt when things deviate from the plan. Failure is a steppingstone to success and a valuable teacher. Instead of fearing it, embrace it. Rather than blaming or berating your team for setbacks, encourage them to view failure as an opportunity for growth.
4. Clarify your role and responsibilities. As a manager, your position carries specific duties. Rather than micromanaging every facet of your team's work because you believe only you can achieve certain tasks successfully, provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. Concentrate on managerial activities unique to your role, such as setting clear objectives, defining benchmarks, and assessing performance.
5. Foster open communication and feedback. To establish a strong rapport with your team, initiate discussions about your management style. Solicit feedback from each team member and inquire about their preferences regarding management. Some may favour your current micromanagement approach, while others may desire greater autonomy. Comprehend your team's needs and adapt accordingly.
Micromanagers often have positive intentions when it comes to their employees and the overall work. However, the issue lies in how their actions can negatively affect team performance, productivity, and even the well-being of individuals. This is why it's imperative for adjustments to be made in a micromanagement setting.