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What is micromanagement?

Micromanagement is a management style that focuses on controlling, overseeing, and being involved in everything your employees do. This creates a workplace that has all the ingredients to spiral into toxic tendencies as trust and autonomy are diminished, and mental health and general wellbeing decline.

Micromanagers often pride themselves on their perfection and believe that this is only achievable if they closely manage the work of others. In some cases, micromanagers may lack confidence and self-esteem and so project onto their staff in hyper-controlling ways. However, what is important to note is that micromanagement is something that anyone can fall susceptible to without sufficient caution and self-awareness. It is not purely the result of certain personality flaws, contrary to popular belief. This makes micromanagement an issue that everyone should become more aware of.

Becoming more self-aware may empower managers to question their management styles and make positive changes to their dealings with employees where necessary, thus laying the foundations for a more positive and nurturing workplace for all. Thrive4Life has much experience in working with organisations to nurture strong, supportive management teams that benefit the health and wellbeing of staff.

Signs of micromanagement

The best way to tell whether you are a micromanager is by observing your organisation and employees. If you notice any of these signs then you might need to rethink your management style.

Low mood/high irritability amongst employees

If you notice that your employees often seem to be in a bad mood then it might be because you aren’t giving them enough leeway in their work.

Reduced productivity

This is another common sign of micromanagement. When employees become less inclined to make autonomous decisions, a backlog may result as work is checked and double-checked by a manager. Creativity and innovation will also take a hit if employees aren’t able to express themselves freely.

High employee turnover

If your employees come and go quickly, this may be because of your management style. The atmosphere in an office which is being micromanaged will often be quite tense and stressful. Employees will feel as though someone is constantly looking over their shoulder and won’t feel any particular attachment to the company

How to avoid micromanaging

Once you have spotted the tell-tale signs of micromanaging, you can now start to address the issues. Here are some tips on how to get started and slowly ease yourself out of micromanagement.

Hire the right people

The first step to avoid micromanaging is to hire the perfect person for the job. If you are confident in their skills and abilities, then you won’t feel the need to follow up with them all the time. In order to hire the right people, you need to have a very clear, detailed job description to ascertain whether each applicant is a right fit for the role. Vague job descriptions lead to bad hires, which may represent a significant financial cost for the company.

Build trust

A company is built on trust; No matter how big or small your organisation is, if there is no trust then work could quickly become unbearable. Again, force yourself to take a step back and let your employees prove themselves. Not only will this mean everyone can work more autonomously but it will also improve your workplace atmosphere.

Delegate tasks

Once you have a good team of employees, delegate responsibilities. This is often the most difficult part for a micromanager but if you have hired the best people then chances are they will do their job better than you. While they are focused on their tasks, you can give all your attention to yours and productivity will hopefully go through the roof.

Set clear deadlines and check-ins

If you are nervous about giving your employees complete autonomy, then schedule clear check-ins and emphasise the importance of deadlines. Once this is established let them work, as they will feel an enormous amount of pressure if you are hovering over them in between deadlines.

Concentrate on goals

Focus on the what not on the how. This is especially pertinent for life under the pandemic as remote and hybrid working has become the norm. Employers can no longer monitor their employees, which might introduce doubt as to whether they are working. But as long as they are able to produce results that are positive then the how loses importance.

Communicate clearly

Have clear open lines of communication with your employees and let them know that they are free to voice their opinions, disagreements, and suggestions on any topic. Have an open discussion about how they like to be managed and see if you can take that into account.

Micromanage in small quantities

Micromanaging isn’t all bad, and if you don’t feel comfortable delegating and trusting initially then implement a training week where you do micromanage to show the new employee the ins-and-outs of the job and your expectations of them. After this week, relax your control and let them fly on their own. In the following weeks, you could periodically drop in and ask if they need help but without imposing it on them.

Follow the 95-95 rule

Accept 95% perfect performance 95% of the time, which will reduce your micromanaging by 95%. Giving your employees this leeway will make everyone less stressed while still striving for very high standards.

Train your managers to support stress and mental health in the workplace

Micromanagement can easily degrade your workplace culture, lower staff morale and productivity, and in the worst cases raise staff turnover. However, there are many positive steps your organisation can take to ensure that managers are properly equipped with the skills they need to manage employee relationships effectively.

Thrive4Life’s Line Manager Training course for Managing Stress and Mental Health in the Workplace provides managers with an all-round introduction to the importance of reflecting on your management style with a view to better supporting the mental health and general wellbeing of employees. All of our training programmes are tailored to meet the needs of your organisation, taking your team structure and priorities into account.

To learn more about our training programme for managers, please get in touch at info@thrive4.life or call us on 020 8972 9675.

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