A micromanager is a manager who is excessively involved in the day-to-day performance of employees. They adopt a management style that focuses on the day-to-day routine of individuals and team members.
Although the micromanagement style may produce quick responses, it can be overly demoralizing, demotivating, and frustrating to the subordinates, and can create a hostile workplace. The excessive obsession with minor details of an employee’s performance causes a direct failure in the management’s ability to focus on the bigger goals of an organization.
A micromanager is a boss who is excessively involved in the supervision of the day-to-day performance of subordinates.
A micromanager closely controls and monitors the performance of employees, often requiring frequent and overly detailed reports.
While micromanagement may produce results in the short term, it damages trust between the boss and employees, delays project completion, and lowers employee morale.
Micromanagement is a management style that involves close supervision of employees and exerting control on minor details of an individual’s workload. Generally, micromanagers avoid delegating authority and decision-making to employees and instead focus their attention on individuals’ day-to-day performance. They are also overly obsessed with information and may require employees to provide frequent and overly detailed reports on their work processes. Employees may also be required to provide constant performance feedback on matters that are considered trivial.
The focus on minor details often delays decision making and can impact the organization’s ability to achieve the overall goals and objectives. In extreme cases, micromanagement may become pathological, where the manager practices workplace bullying and exhibits certain behavior that leaves employees demoralized.
While employees can easily identify micromanagement, managers who practice this management style often repulse any allegations of micromanagement. Instead, they offer an alternative description of their management style, such as perfectionistic or organized, which is different from what they practice.
Signs of a Micromanager
Here are common signs of micromanagement:
While it is natural for a manager to check on a delegated activity’s progress, micromanagers often feel the urge to constantly check employee’s progress to see if they are doing what they were instructed to do. The manager requires employees to follow their instructions to the letter, and there is little room for creativity or independence. As a result, employees spend a lot of time replying to the manager’s emails instead of focusing on the tasks assigned to them.
Micromanagers believe that there is one else who can do a better job than them. Instead of delegating tasks to employees with specialized skills, micromanagers take on every task, including tasks they are not qualified to undertake. To the manager, delegating responsibility to employees means giving up control of critical work processes.
While such an approach may be successful in the short term, the manager’s workload will keep growing, critical processes will slow down, and the employee’s performance will suffer. As a result, productive employees will not have enough work to keep them busy. They will either stop taking the initiative or leave the company for another company where employees are appreciated.
A micromanager focuses on minor details and is always looking for evidence to validate their lack of trust in the employee’s work. If the manager finds any mistakes in the employee’s work, such as a typo or missing details, the employee will have to deal with an ever complaining boss.
Working in such an environment will demoralize employees, and the organization may experience a high employee turnover as dissatisfied employees move to alternative organizations where employees are recognized.
“Reportomania” refers to a habit of requesting frequent and detailed reports. It is related to being control-obsessed since the manager does not trust the employees enough to give them the space to work independently. Instead, a micromanaging boss requires constant reports from the employees to ensure that the work delivered is according to the instructions given.
Limitations of Micromanagement
If an employee is not allowed the space to work and think independently, they will be dependent on the manager’s instructions for them to perform. Micromanagers rarely delegate responsibilities to their employees, limiting the employee’s ability to take the initiative in their positions.
Employees quickly lose their confidence in working independently, and if the manager is not around, work processes will be delayed until the manager is available to provide instructions.
A micromanager is control-obsessed and detail-oriented, and they damage the trust between the boss and the subordinates. Usually, trust is a two-way process; employees trust their boss as much as the boss trusts them.
If the boss does not appreciate the effort that subordinates put into the organization and is constantly complaining of small mistakes, employees will be demotivated. In the process, the organization may lose its highly skilled and high-performance employees to competitors.
Delayed project completion
Without delegation, a micromanager sets the pace for every project being undertaken within the organization. It means that employees will have to wait for the boss to grant them approval before moving to the next project.
As the manager’s schedule gets busy, incomplete projects will keep piling, slowing the pace for key projects. With multiple pending projects, the approval and/or revision process will extend beyond the expected timelines, and it will affect the attainment of the overall goals and objectives.