Three Ways Micromanagers Make Employees Feel

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“Micro” means extremely small. But in combination with “manager,” it means email updates, approval for decisions, and sideway glances over employee shoulders.

Micro may mean small, but micromanaging is a big problem—leading to employees feeling disempowered and ready to quit.

Just how do employees feel when micromanaged and what can micromanagers do to improve?

#1 When Micromanaged, Employees Feel Unmotivated

Intrinsic motivation is a huge part of success in any position. It is the desire to challenge oneself to be better and take risks; it is fueled by purpose and passion. But micromanagers who oversee every employee idea squelch this intrinsic drive. “(Employees) begin to wonder what their purpose is in being assigned certain duties if a manager constantly dictates how to complete each job task,” says Ruth Mayhew of Chron. “With constant oversight comes disengagement from the job itself; the employee’s job is no longer challenging or fulfilling” (Ruth Mayhew, Chron).  A micromanager takes away an employee’s motivation to learn and grow because the employee is afraid to make mistakes.

#2 When Micromanaged, Employees Feel Managers Lack Confidence in Their Work

At the beginning of the relationship, a manager should respect the person he is hiring. Each employee has his own wealth of experience and skill. If this is not valued, employees will never feel they bring anything unique to the position. “If a leader needs to engage in micromanagement, it shows that they lack confidence in their staff,” says Forbes Coaches Council.

Think in terms of a parent letting a child drive a car for the first time. Releasing control tells the child you trust his judgment and have confidence in his skills.

“Within a company, micromanagement derails the creative process and can negatively impact employees, making them want to leave. The result is reflected in the high turnover rate of the business” (Forbes Coaches Council).

 #3 When Micromanaged, Employees Feel Negative About the Manager Relationship

Micromanagers may not realize this, but micromanaging is more about the micromanager himself than the employee. Why does someone micromanage? “Managers worry about being disconnected. As managers rise through the ranks, they often become concerned that they’ve lost touch with the actual work of the organization. Because they have less direct contact with the shop floor or customers, they start to feel isolated. One way of reducing this anxiety is to seek information in as many ways as possible — through reports, meetings, and one-on-one conversations,” says Ron Ashkenas of Harvard Business Review.

Micromanagers usually do not realize their actions are a result of their own insecurities. Employees quickly become bitter over endless checks and balances. Many complain to coworkers or get so frustrated that they leave.

How to Manage a Tendency to Micromanage

Micromanagers need to learn how to trust employees and when to let go. In recent years, letting go is especially hard due to remote work, but establishing deadlines, expectations, and positive communication strategies is key.

Three strategies for managers offered by Colin M. Fisher, Teresa M. Amabile, and Julianna Pillemer of Harvard Business Review include:

  • Be available to help when employees ask, but initiate help only when employees are ready for it. Try to head off issues instead of overseeing completed work.
  • Clarify your role—it can be exhausting to manage everything
  • Align your involvement- the intensity and frequency- to employee’s specific needs through good communication.

Like a good coach, managers should work to identify and support employees’ natural strengths.

Why Micromanaged Employees Look Elsewhere

At Artemis Consultants, we know that a bad manager is one of the top reasons employees leave jobs. Micromanaging stymies career growth. “Many employees begin their careers as young professionals who require guidance and supervision; however, during the course of their careers, they become more adept and the need for direction and oversight gradually decreases. When supervisors micromanage employees, employees may believe the only alternative is for them to look elsewhere for career opportunities” (Ruth Mayhew, Chron).

Managers should look for innovative ways to utilize the strengths they see. Like a good coach, managers should work to identify and support employees’ natural strengths.

To retain top talent, never underestimate the importance of a healthy manager/employee relationship. To discuss management strategies in more depth, please contact one of the expert recruiters at Artemis.

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