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Micromanaging: How It Can Actually Hurt Productivity

September 22, 2022

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Micromanaging coworkers can actually harm your productivity more than help it.
Micromanaging coworkers can actually harm your productivity more than help it.

Nobody wants a micromanaging boss. Being micromanaged is often stressful and can lead to employees feeling undervalued. Not only that, it can often lead to decreased productivity. While most micromanagers feel that they are being helpful by providing strong guidance, this is often not true. Most bosses who engage in micromanagement likely don’t realize that they are micromanaging their staff. That’s why it’s important for both employees and management to recognize the signs and dangers of micromanagement.

What is Micromanaging?

First, let’s answer the question of what is micromanaging. Sometimes it’s easy to spot, but other times the line between micromanagement and regular guidance can be blurry. Managers and leaders need to give specific instructions occasionally. It’s important not to mislabel all management styles as micromanaging.

Micromanagement is when a manager seeks control of every aspect of a task or range of tasks. Often, micromanagers will give excessive unsolicited feedback or control things that are not their responsibility.

A micromanaging boss is bad for a number of reasons. First, most employees don’t enjoy being micromanaged. It causes stress and erodes trust. But one of the largest dangers of micromanaging, for both employees and employers, is that it harms productivity. 

How Micromanagement Harms Productivity 

When a worker or team is being micromanaged, they feel as though their potential and development are being limited. This leads to workers doubting themselves or simply losing motivation. Creative output is diminished, and the stress from being micromanaged also reduces worker energy levels. 

Additionally, if a team becomes accustomed to micromanagement, then they become dependent on their manager for productivity. These workers will hesitate to move forward with any tasks before getting their manager’s approval or feedback.

While some level of approval and feedback from management is always appreciated, it should not be a hindrance to productivity. When an employee is hired to perform a task, they are entrusted with the responsibility that comes with it. A micromanaging boss is essentially stripping those responsibilities from their employees. Ideally, managers should trust their workers and give them the freedom to fulfill their responsibilities. 

How to Deal With a Micromanaging Boss

Figuring out how to deal with a micromanaging boss can be difficult. It is a sensitive topic, and most employees are uncomfortable bringing direct criticism to their managers. 

For managers wondering how to avoid micromanaging, there are many strategies that are easy to implement. Setting firm boundaries, focusing on expectations rather than specifics, and inviting open communication are some keys to healthy management. But what if you are an employee dealing with a micromanaging boss?

The first thing most experts recommend is to evaluate the situation carefully before offering any feedback. Review your own work habits, and also try to understand the mindset of your micromanager. If you’re not comfortable bringing your feedback to them directly, you can instead work to build trust. Most micromanaging habits stem from a lack of trust, whether it’s warranted or not.

Who Can You Turn to For Guidance?

If you are comfortable discussing management styles with your boss, try to focus on expectations and boundaries. The more you emphasize your desire for clear expectations, the better. If your manager is able to clearly articulate expectations, you will have a stronger foundation with which to work. Over time, this foundation can be built into a more trusting and healthy working relationship. 

Ultimately, clear communication between employees and management is crucial. If you are being micromanaged, work on opening a friendly and professional line of communication with your manager. It may take time, but this is usually the healthiest way to improve morale and productivity.


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