Why Micromanaging is Bad

Why Micromanaging is Bad

Reasons to Stop

Dan Petrenko's portrait
Dan Petrenko
Head of Customer Success
Why Micromanaging is Bad

Managing is hard, there is no denying that. There are usually two sides of the same coin: managers give too much supervision and micromanage every employee or give too little oversight. Both are bad, and it's awesome if you can reach the middle ground, but micromanagement is the worst thing you can do. Here's why.

Why Do They Control?

It's a good question. There are a few main reasons that I believe are responsible for that, but the most obvious one is lack of trust. People are often promoted to managers after doing a very good job on their regular post, and they jump right into working with people without proper training or even a thought to go through one. After doing so well, they just can't trust anyone to do their job better. It's not always bad though, sometimes a manager can see that you are struggling to keep up and try to help. Although the method they choose only does worse to the employee. Watching every step you take and every move you make is not the way to increase your performance, it's a fact. Another major reason is a big project that has been assigned to them to oversee. I can understand this one, as it's their head at stake, and they don't want you nor anyone to make mistakes. The only thing is we are all people and being wrong is in our nature. Failing to understand that is what makes a bad manager, and you can't allow your desire to do good in front of your boss to get in the way to make your employees happy and healthy. Don't assign underperforming personnel on these projects and you should be fine, but there will come time for these people to join bigger projects as well.

Effects on the Employees

I bet that almost everyone has been micromanaged at least once in their career lives, and I am sure that it was not a good experience, to say the least. We are all different, so the effects micromanagement has on us will depend on many factors, including your personality, age, and health. As you are being constantly watched and managed, your first response might be to try and do better in the eyes of your management. You may even succeed at first, but their close watch is not even near to being lifted, and that's where the problems begin: you start to burn out. People without prior working experience may not know what they are even dealing with and succumb to this management style in the end, leaving them badly damaged by the neverending race to "do better". This can lead to yet another scenario: you become so attached and used to being managed that you lose your independence in the worst way possible. You are no longer able to make any decisions by yourself, have no desire to learn, and show that you know and can do things on your own. When this happens, an employee becomes heavily attached to their manager, waiting for approval of nearly everything that they are about to do. Some people react very negatively to this type of management. The only thought of being watched all of the time makes them furious and anxious at the same time. They use every opportunity they have to show that they disapprove of their manager. As a result, it creates a very unpleasant experience for them and their overseer, performance starts to drop, and everybody's scratching their heads in corporate.

Why You Should Stop Micromanaging

If the reason above is not enough, I will sum them up into more structured points for you to understand the importance of letting go the complete control:

  1. You Lose Your Employees' Trust. You can have your reasons and defend them all you want, but micromanagement leads to an inevitable loss of trust. Just as you do not believe in your employee, they will stop believing in you as their manager. 2. They Become Dependent on You. You will be bombarded with dozens of approval requests every day because your employees will lose the ability to make their own decisions along with their independence. Latter is crucial to professional growth and taking it away from them will be on you. 3. They Lose the Ability to Learn. It's an easy psychology thing: why learn to do something better if everything is being strictly controlled, managed, and corrected? 4. You Become Less Effective in Your Job. Your job is to oversee many people at once, and trying to control even one of them too much is going to take a toll on your role. Being too invested in micromanaging every move of every team member is impossible: there is too much to take in and process.

When It's Not Micromanagement?

It wouldn't be fair not to mention some of the times when it's fair to devote more of your time to one of the employees.

  1. Onboarding. When a new member joins your team, it's crucial for them to quickly learn the ropes of the company, and you will be their mentor for anywhere from one month to even half a year. 2. Large Project. It's hard to differentiate between a responsible and micromanaging manager here, but sometimes it may just be impossible to avoid control. Some projects have too much at stake: large amounts of money, legal responsibilities, tight deadlines, the reputation of your company. All of those things are very important, and if you are too controlling only for the duration of this project, it may be all right, since you are concerned about all the things from above.

How to Stop

You see, it all goes back to my first point. Trust, that is. You can't just cold turkey out of the micromanagement though, it's a hard process that needs a lot of work from your side. The easiest way is beginning to gradually let go of control. Order the list of tasks by importance and start from the least, assign it to someone, and do not attempt to manage it every minute. Yes, people will make mistakes and fail. Remember, it is in our nature to do so. Apart from that, it's a sign of growth: you can't learn a new skill without failing and realizing what you're doing wrong. Another big advantage for you is the ability to assess employees more clearly. You'll see who needs help or training, and who is better to let go altogether. I know that the journey may be hard, but it's the only way to succeed in your current role as the manager: your success is your success.