Micromanagement: don’t fall into the trap

June 4, 2018 Federico Francini



Have you ever had a manager that has to have everything under control? Do they nitpick over the smallest detail or refuse to delegate even the simplest of tasks?  Sooner or later, everyone will have met this type of person in their professional career. This style of working is commonly referred to as micromanagement. 


Micromanagement will often involve a person refusing to delegate tasks and when they do delegate, they will tell their employees how to do the work.


Working under this kind of environment is far from beneficial to the company and provides no value to the employee. Ultimately, micromanagement ends up causing frustration amongst experienced employees and harms their potential to succeed.


Micromanagement can also be the reflection of a strong hierarchical company culture - the need for particularly strict rules and a management style that guides every process and activity of the business, resulting in conflict, frustration and a lack of motivation amongst employees. So, what exactly are the risks of micromanagement and how can organisations ensure that they don’t fall into the trap?


Loss of control


Micromanagers like to have constant control over their employees, but there can be a paradoxical aspect to only deploying this type of management style. If control is not accompanied by another management strategy, management can end up losing all of their control and becoming ineffective in their role.


Loss of trust


The biggest risk when you get caught up with micromanagement is the loss of trust from your employees. Sooner or later they will stop considering and respecting you as their boss/manager. When this happens, the most immediate consequences are a drop in productivity and, in the worst of scenarios, a lack of employee retention. Trust is not a one-way street: to receive it, it is necessary to grant it.


High turnover rate


Most people do not like being micromanaged. The ego, the insecurity and inexperience of those who implement this kind of strategy can be difficult to cope with. In many cases, the only way not to be a victim is to leave the company completely.


Similarly, the constant guidance from a micromanager leaves employees feeling as though they cannot complete tasks without support, limiting their growth and preventing career development. Often, this results in organisations having a high turnover of employees and a low productivity rate.


Having a high turnover rate doesn’t bode well for organisation – recruiting and training people to fill vacant roles constantly is great waste of time, money, resources and power.


How can we control it?


If this type of management is familiar to you and you are looking for a way out, the only way to combat it, is to talk openly and sincerely. Being honest with your manager is a good start – tell them that their management style is stopping you from expressing your best potential and tell them what should be different about their management style.


If, on the other hand, you feel that you are implementing a management style of this kind, here are some tips that could be useful:


1. Reflect on your management style and ask yourself about the need to have everything under control. Is this about insecurity? Or the fear that your team will fail at the task in hand, which will reflect negatively on your management style? The awareness of why you are micro-managing is the first step to change your direction.   


2. Set priorities. The difference between managing and micro-managing employees lies in the attention a manager gives to the ‘micro’ aspects of a job. Ask yourself if you are really in control of your activity and if this is bringing added value. Before starting any new project, discuss with your team what your level of involvement should be and at what point your intervention will be needed. Identify your priorities and make sure that your energy is directed at the tasks you’re needed for.


4. Communicate with your team. To understand how much your management style helps or hinders your team's performance, ask your employees explicitly. Set moments for meetings and discussions, and schedule de-briefing sessions at the end of each project to discuss what worked and what did not.   


Recognising and understanding your micromanagement habits is a critical first step in changing them. If it seems daunting to make these changes all at once, start with one and do it right, taking comfort in the fact that you are moving in the right direction.


About the Author

Federico Francini

Federico has over 27 years of experience in IT companies, where he played different sales management roles, with the responsibility of managing large customers in all vertical markets. In Cornerstone since 2017, Federico is responsible of the company's global strategy in Italy, leading the local sales team, developing relationships with key partners and expanding the penetration of Cornerstone’s solutions on the Italian market.

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