Have you ever been in a relationship and felt completely stifled? Like everything you did was being watched and scrutinized? Perhaps your partner was trying to exert some kind of control over what you were doing and wanted to know where you were and what you were doing at all times. We have established the fact that Spark Hire is not a dating site, right? Yes, we have, but the fact of the matter is that although we may not be a dating site, this is exactly what it feels like to be on the receiving end of micromanagement. Yikes!
Micromanaging is a management style that has been picked up by one too many managers the world over. It can be defined by Adams-Hall Publishing as “a petty approach to managing every detail of your business- even to the preposterous notion of an inventory control for your paper clips.” Sounds ridiculous, right? But the truth is thousands of managers and employers are micromanagers and are failing to realize how negatively it is affecting their company.They are not only stifling their employees, but they are holding their own team or company back by stunting progress. Let’s take a look at what kind of effect micromanagement has on your employees, and how you can start stepping away from this stifling management style.
Remember not too long ago when Spark Hire discussed what employee engagement is and how important it is to your company? In case you missed the article, the gist was that engaged employees are more productive and loyal employees. As a business owner or department manager, this is certainly what you want. However, when you are micromanaging your employees chances are they are completely disengaged from their work. In the beginning they may put up with your control issues, but after a while your constant “hands in the pot” will not only stifle their creativity, but force them to be less productive.
When you micromanage an employee, (which usually means you constantly check their work, demand frequent check-ins and/or focus on every minute detail of a project) it’s hard for them to maintain that drive they once had for their work. You are telling them that you do not trust their work, or them. You can see how someone would fully disengage from their work because of this.
As a manager, Small Business Chron states that it is your job to provide guidance to your employees and team. It is your job to keep them going on that path to success. It is not your job to constantly check in with them to see how they are faring on that road to success though. If you stop your employees time and time again to force them to listen to how you envision the project and how you see every minute detail, then time is lost on actually getting to that goal. All of the time you are spending explaining and demonstrating could be spent on actually producing results.
In fact, a recent study shows that people who believe they are being watched actually perform at a lower level. So just by keeping close tabs on your employees you are stunting their productivity. Rather than micromanage your employee’s every move, clearly outline what you expect from them and the project and set goals. Step back and let them do their job. If they don’t make a certain goal you set, or if the project is going under, then step in but you have to allow your employees to do their job at some point.
There can be a number of reasons why you feel you have to micromanage your team. Perhaps you aren’t sure they can get the job done as well as you can. Maybe you fear that if you are not on top of your employees at all times that they will slack off. Whatever the reason is, you need to understand that from your employee’s point of view it simply looks like you do not trust them or their skills. That may be true, but that’s no fault of your employees. When you are hiring you need to be sure you are hiring the right people. That way, you know that they can get the job done. Better hiring is certainly your first step in getting away from micromanaging. On top of that, you need to know which employees are your good employees and which are your “bad” employees. Treating them all as if they are “bad” employees that need constant guidance will stifle your engaged employees.
Next, you need to be sure you are making your expectations clear to your employees. Perhaps you are afraid they cannot do a good job because they haven’t in the past. Are you making it clear to them what you want though? Remember, they are not mind readers, and without clear goals and clear expectations your employees are working towards a fuzzy end. Make sure you are clear and concise with what you want so your employees have something to work towards. Without that, they may misstep and you will feel it necessary to give them hands-on help (or micromanaging).
Trust your employees and give them a chance to really shine. With your hands in all of the pots its difficult for you to focus on the main goal of your company and your own work goals. Hire competent people, but once you do be sure to step back and let them get to work- on their own!
Have you worked for a micromanager before? Share with us in the comments section below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Jeffrey Beall