If you’re kept on a tight leash at work, with every task controlled and checked by your boss, you may be being micromanaged.
While a boss is supposed to keep an eye on what’s going on and support employees so they are able to do their jobs, being overly controlling can negatively affect staff wellbeing, productivity, and satisfaction.
Micromanaging can be a pretty difficult habit to break, but it can be extremely detrimental to employees.
“Micromanaging is a management style where managers closely monitor and control the majority of their employees’ daily work, instead of providing them the space and freedom to work independently to learn and grow from their accomplishments and mistakes,” says Dania Shaheen, VP of strategy & people operations at the HR firm Kazoo.
“Managers prone to micromanaging can be more hurtful to employees because they impact the overall employee experience – from performance and engagement to motivation and even creativity within the workplace.”
A boss who micromanages may go out of their way to make corrections, or ask to be cc’d or bcc’d on emails, or insist on redoing work that doesn’t need redoing.
“When left unaddressed, the micromanaging mentality creates an overall negative workplace culture, low office morale and increased turnover rates – which doesn’t exactly sound like a fun place to work day in and day out,” Shaheen adds.
So how can you stop yourself from being an overbearing manager?
The first thing to do is to have an open and honest conversation with each member of your team about how they want to be managed – from work styles and how often check-ins should occur to how to deal with goal-setting, Shaheen advises.
“What works for one employee does not work for every employee, so tailoring management styles will build trust between the manager and employee, contribute to a healthier company culture and allow all employees to thrive and enjoy their work,” she says.
“While micromanaging may get short-term results faster, managers must consider putting their employees first to give them the room to learn and grow through their work.”
Lindsay Dagiantis, HR expert at Envoy Global, also advises asking yourself a few questions to see if you are micromanaging.
“A few include: Do I struggle with delegating assignments? Am I overly involved or inserting myself into other peoples projects? When I receive an assignment am I immediately searching for mistakes? Am I taking back work I delegated because I think it would be it would be easier or quicker for me to complete?”
“The foundation of a healthy relationship between a manager and an employee is built on trust,” Dagiantis says. “To do this, managers should make an effort to get to know their employees on both a work and personal level.
Additionally, it’s important that a common theme across the workplace is transparency. “Having conversations about workstyle preferences up front can help managers and employees understand how they like tasks to be completed, open a dialogue about pet peeves and find a balance and avoid problems that might arise down the road,” she adds.
However, there are some instances when micromanaging can be helpful, says Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management.
“It can be useful to have someone double-checking for you that your decimal points are in the right place, your proposals stack up and you are striking the right tone for a sensitive piece of work,” she says. “When this is handled as constructive feedback then it can become a valuable learning opportunity for the employee.”
However, if the employee feels the feedback is overly picky and more about the manager wanting to control everything, then they are more likely to feel resentful and de-skilled.
“That’s not to say that bosses shouldn’t scrutinise their employees’ performance and highlight mistakes,” Mills adds. “They should, because ultimately the boss is responsible for the work of their department and if an employee is under-performing they need to step up their game or they might not have a job any more.”