Micromanaging: Its Effects on Your Team and How to Avoid It

When someone’s just started their job on your team, it’s natural to feel unsure about their performance and be a bit wary. As a leader and manager, the way you manage and guide your employees can change their experience with their job and the company as a whole. 

Stepping in too often for too long can strip away their autonomy and their personal growth. Are you handling your team members in a way where you are unconsciously micromanaging them? If so, what can you do to change your behavior and clarify your intentions? 

What Exactly Is Micromanaging?

Micromanaging” refers to managers and leaders who intervene too often or too extensively in their subordinates’ activities. Of those who’ve worked for a micromanager, 68% of employees reported a decrease in morale, while 55% claimed it hurt productivity—two negative side effects that lead to a larger problem: employee turnover.

Micromanagement is one of the top three reasons employees resign. It dampens creativity, breeds mistrust, causes undue stress, and demoralizes your team. While micromanaging may be the result of a genuine effort to ensure success, it hinders growth as it is almost impossible to scale micromanagement when teams and projects grow. 

A Disaster in the Making

A Reddit user recently shared their experience:

I’ve been working with someone that likes to micromanage their people to the point of jumping into someone’s task, coming up with the whole idea and then telling you to copy it. None of those are his responsibilities; His task is simply to look out for mistakes but he’s all over everything. 

He sits there and watches while I work, frequently dictating as you would to a toddler. I’m not even given the chance to mess up! 

Becoming a Better Manager

As a starting point, your team members should know that you’re willing to offer help—and they should feel comfortable asking for it. But if you’re concerned about a particular employee or the project that has been assigned requires exceptional care, here are some ways you can approach your team members. 

Time your help. Leaders who are viewed as the most helpful don’t try to predict and plan for every problem or dive in as soon as they recognize one. Instead, they watch and listen until they believe their subordinates see the need for help and are ready to listen. They understand that people are more willing to welcome assistance when they’re already engaged in a task or a project and have experienced its challenges firsthand.

Clarify that you’re there to help. Because seeking and receiving help can make some people feel vulnerable or incompetent, managers need to clarify their roles when intervening. Your involvement can imply that your employees are messing up in a big way. Explaining that you are there to help, not to judge or take over can go a long way in reassuring your team and making sure that they remain receptive to assistance. 

Tailor your approach to the project and employee. To provide useful advice, it is best to take the time to fully understand the problems. Allocating time and attention in a pattern that both works for your employees and is appropriate for the project can go a long way in boosting productivity. 

Embrace creativity. There’s always more than one way to do things. Empowering your employees to experiment with their ideas and test new approaches can even help you become more efficient in the long run. If something doesn’t go exactly as planned, consider it a learning opportunity for next time. 

Here at Prevue, we use our Team-Fit report to discover how different personalities work together to help us minimize conflict, improve communication, and optimize effectiveness in our teams. We bring the personality insights from the report to our team to help each other learn how each member works best with one another.

Let your employees learn, grow, and experiment. Trust their judgment, skills, and expertise. As a manager and leader, refocus on the bigger picture. While micromanaging may seem tempting because of the amount of control it gives you, it often doesn’t give you much control over the bigger things in the long run.