How micromanagement is harming your company

Running a business is tough, sometimes even unbearable. You go to bed with thoughts about it, have dreams about it, and wake up with new ideas and conclusions about it. 

Sometimes you may think you can trust only yourself, and nobody can do this specific task, and this one, and this one more, better than you. The bad news is that you have micromanagement, the good news — it can be cured entirely.

What is micromanagement? 

Micromanagement is a style of management with excessive supervision of employees. Instead of setting straightforward tasks, requirements, and deadlines, a micromanager will check every step of their accomplishment and give dozens of feedback and criticism. 

Being micromanaged, employees work under constant stress and pressure. They do not feel their own value and the value of their work for the company. 

Over time, the atmosphere in the company can become downright unbearable. To prevent this, you need to identify whether or not you are micromanaging, and take steps to change the way you manage.

Five classic micromanagement symptoms

So how can you tell if you are micromanaging? Here are five classic symptoms to check. 

1) You struggle with delegating (or don’t delegate at all) 

Micromanagers find it hard to delegate responsibilities; even when they do, they give a concrete guide on how the particular task should be done. Thus, employees feel like hands that perform orders. 

2) You need to be in constant control

Asking for step-by-step updates, monitoring all the employees’ actions at the workplace (maybe, even outside), giving feedback as frequently as possible, and not giving any team member a space to work and breathe — these are the signs of overcontrol. 

3) You have an “I can do it better” approach

It’s one of the most apparent symptoms of micromanagement. Relying only on yourself limits you and your business. Unilateral decisions lead to unilateral solutions and a dead end. Eventually, the micromanager can burn out from the amount of “I can do it better” work. 

4) You’re excessively focused on the details

Digging into the details of the details drags into the minutiae and takes away the ability to see the bigger picture. While busy doing minor tasks, micromanagers don’t fulfill their direct duties — managing team and business.

5) You’re CC’d in every email 

This headline says it all. This symptom may be considered a consequence of overcontrol. It’s about the obsession of being aware of every project, communication and discussion, and fear of missing a single point. 

How does micromanagement harm your business? 

Micromanagement can be justified in the short term and only occasionally in certain situations. It can work until you build your dream team within which you can trust every member and delegate responsibilities to them. 

However, in the long term, micromanagement hurts employees’ morale and the company’s performance. 

Harry Chambers, the owner of Trinity Solutions consulting firm and a businessman with 30+ years of practical business experience, wrote a book, My Way or the Highway, where he shared some data from his company’s survey:

  • 71% of employees said micromanagement interfered with their job performance
  • 85% reported their morale was negatively impacted

Here are the examples of micromanagement’s negative impact.

You have a toxic work environment 

Micromanagement creates an unbearable environment for employees to work and express themselves. Being under constant control, they are stressed out, always tense, and waiting for their micromanager to appear and give a new batch of criticism and comments. 

Thus, employees feel that you don’t trust them and devalue their work — consequently, you get utterly unhealthy communication. 

There’s no room for flexibility and creativity 

Micromanagement is the killer of creativity and enthusiasm. No one wants to be proactive and suggest new ideas and solutions when they know they will hear “I know better” feedback.

The lack of creativity leads to template solutions and walking in circles. By taking opportunities away from your employees, you are taking them from yourself.

You have a high employee turnover

According to the same survey by Trinity Solutions: 

  • 69% considered changing jobs due to micromanagement
  • 36% actually changed jobs

These numbers are unsurprising because if your employees feel underrated and oppressed – they will quit. 

Your business stagnates or even collapses

All the previous harms can eventually end with everything starting to fall apart. 

It’s like the snowball effect – with your every micro feedback, micro decision, micro task, you can supposedly do better – you are destroying your business. 

How to avoid micromanagement 

Firstly, you have to confess that you are a micromanager – and that’s the hardest part. You may think you’re just a perfectionist, but it’s definitely micromanagement if you have a match with the symptoms we’ve described above. 

So what can you do once you realise you might be micromanaging? Here are some suggestions to help you avoid falling for it.

Don’t be so hard on yourself 

Take a deep breath in and then breathe out – you can’t take everything on yourself and do it perfectly. Perfection is a myth and a killer of joy & creativity. 

Try to let go of yourself and your employees. Give them space to try different approaches and solutions. Yes, they might fail, but so will you too. So fail together and become stronger.

Practice delegation

You have to learn to let go of all the micro tasks and focus on your direct responsibilities. While delegating, leave space for your employees on how they should implement solutions. 

It will be easier to delegate if you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team members. Thus, you will know how to distribute tasks and what to expect from their accomplishment.  

Hire competent project management

Once you’ve learned to delegate, you are ready to delegate most of your micromanagement tasks to your project managers. 

While you continue learning to let go and be a micromanager, your well-skilled project managers will create a healthy environment for the employees — let them work at their own pace and in their creative manner. 

Set clear deadlines and performance metrics 

Clear deadlines and performance metrics give employees a sense of direction and purpose. They can work more effectively and confidently by knowing what is expected of them. 

Additionally, by setting specific goals and performance metrics, employees can measure their progress and see how their work contributes to the company’s overall success.

You may not get everything right at once, and that’s okay. Be patient and become more macro and less micro with each day. 

The article was prepared by Nata Tsvietkova, a StartupSoft copywriter. StartupSoft is a Ukrainian staff augmentation company that helps startups from Silicon Valley build their offshore development teams. 

Nata has been a creative copywriter at various popular Ukrainian ad agencies for 10 years. With a strong background in creating brands and holistic communications for them, she joined the StartupSoft team right at its rebranding. Today, Nata is responsible for creating content and building the company’s consistent communication.