What is Micromanagement and How to Deal With It
The term “micromanagement” associates with demoralizing, frustrating, and demotivating. It is always tough to deal with a controlling boss who doesn’t trust you.
Micromanagement is a strongly controlling management style that is demoralizing and counter-intuitive. The desire to control everything to make sure processes go according to the plan may create more problems in the long-term.
Micromanagement may lead to long-term issues and bad habits such a system creates. Even if a team is rather small, leaders who addicted to micromanagement run the risk of alienating employees, diminishing their trust, making them dependent on micromanagement, and causing individuals to burn out. In this post, we define the pros and cons of micromanagement and propose some basic tips on how to deal with it.
What is Micromanagement?
Micromanagement is a negative management style that is characterized by extremely close supervision and control of the minor details of an individual’s workload. A micromanager typically avoids delegating decision-making power to employees. He/she can be overly obsessed with information gathering, forcing team players to produce regular reports that often seem superfluous. Micromanagement can be pathological including serious workplace bullying and specific personality traits, such as narcissism.
In some cases, it can be useful, for example, in small-scale projects, but most people used to associate the term of micromanagement with harm. If you feel that someone is always tracking your work and picking apart every mistake, your boss is probably a micromanager.
Who is a micromanager?
A micromanager is a person who focuses all his/her attention on controlling unimportant details, ignoring what is really relevant for the company. These managers are usually characterized by a lack of perspective and strategic vision. They are often in charge of teams despite their evident inability to manage them.
Many employees often receive emails with “URGENT” as the subject, written in capital letters, but they were actually not such a pressing issue. There are many chances that such emails were sent by micromanagers.
What are the features that characterize them? Here’re some of them:
- They always want to know where their team members are and what they are working on, constantly.
- They are never satisfied with the results. You will never see their satisfaction if the task has not been performed exactly the way they had asked for.
- They ask to send them copies of all emails, even the most irrelevant emails.
- They think that they care but they are not aware of how much they stand in the way of the productivity of their team members.
Feel free to also read our relevant article “How to Easily Recognize that Your Boss is a Micromanager?“
Pros and Cons of Micromanagement
As we have mentioned above that micromanagement is a negative thing, it is logical to start with its cons.
Cons of micromanagement
Here are the key reasons we often think of “micromanage” as a bad thing:
- Micromanagement often annoys employees
- It makes managers lose sight of the big picture
- It leads to team members’ burnouts
- It is vulnerable to human errors
- It damages employee trust
- It may increase the employee turnover rate
- It can cause employees to become dependent on micromanagement
Micromanaging people means that you’re telling them that you don’t trust them enough to work on their own and still produce good results. It leads to employees getting annoyed with managers and damaging the trust they have.
Micromanagement also discourages decision-making in any team. Employees don’t just breed resentment, it makes them dependent on further micromanagement to perform their jobs.
Pros of micromanagement
Micromanagement isn’t always about bad things. Constant operations tracking and thorough managing them is useful when teams are still small. While the negative quickly stack up, it serves a real purpose in smaller teams and specific situations, for example:
- It provides better control over operations
- It makes complex operations more reliable to execute
- It provides better awareness of metrics
- It helps to onboard employees
Micromanagement meant total control, so the manager makes everyone reporting with frequent status reports, letting him/her check that everything is being done to their standards. This is actually great for guiding small teams and new employees.
Micromanagement can also benefit when dealing with highly complex or customizable orders. Such orders often require a lot of instructions, which can be provided and tracked if a micromanage style approach is taken.
What Are the Ways to Deal with Micromanagement?
If you care about your personal productivity and the global efficiency of your team, you should understand that coexisting with micromanagement is not the most desirable solution. You will definitely suffer from its effects and one day you will experience frustration and a feeling of discouragement.
There are some ways that can help you to deal with micromanagement. The following tips will be relevant for team members who have a problem of cooperation with a micromanager.
1. Try to eliminate situations that encourage micromanagement
If you work in the micromanagement environment and every day face maximum control, make it easier for you.
Provide your micromanager with detailed reports and try to anticipate possible tasks he/she can ask you to do. Have all the reports in writing form for their peace of mind.
2. Report proactively
As micromanagers want to participate in every step of the project implementation, do not limit them. Their requests for changes and updates on how the process is going will be the constant.
In order to avoid stress because of micromanagement, try to get ahead and propose information on how you are performing in a proactive way. Just before being asked to. Send a morning email where you state what you have done so far and what you plan to complete or use online to-do lists that modern project management tools propose to inform your boss. Your micromanager will be aware of what your workload is and perhaps will forget about you for some time.
3. Try to show them how their decisions affect productivity
The best way to maintain a sensible conversation with a micromanager is to arrange a face-to-face meeting. What you should definitely do is to explain that the insistence of the micromanager has negative effects on your productivity that can directly affect your commitment to the common project. Try to carefully ask he/she to let you perform your work your own way.
4. Ask for the alternative
You may also propose to do your tasks without their supervision and suggest the possibility of reviewing the whole process when you finish. Perhaps, letting them know that you can work more independently will ensure them to leave you alone.
If you persuade them, warmly thank micromanagers for their confidence. They will be aware of the positive effect delegating tasks have on you.
Just as no employee wants to be micromanaged, no one leader wants to be a micromanager. However, focusing on the big picture and on motivating employees, managers can redirect their efforts to be the most effective leader they can be.
Have you ever encountered micromanagement? What methods did you use to combat this? Feel free to comment below!