How Micromanagement Inhibits Growth, Creativity and Productivity
Updated: Dec 17, 2022
Steve Jobs once said, "It does not make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do."
This advice says it all about micromanagement and how it inhibits growth, creativity and productivity.
It is possible to micromanage the process, but not the people.
According to LinkedIn, talented team members' confidence drops when employees feel someone is constantly watching over them and judging their every move. They try to avoid taking risks and decision making which in turn inhibits growth and creativity.
Team members should have the freedom to do things their way, and that's what diversity is all about. Diversity is the key to greater productivity.
If a manager only wants to do things his or her way, why hire a group of talented and diverse professionals with different thinking styles and problem solving skills?
"It does not make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do." Steve Jobs
Micromanagers are frustrating and annoying to employees. They prove by their behavior that they do not trust their team member in project management, or even to do simple tasks right by constantly overruling them, nagging at them, and interfering or criticizing their every move.
How do you recognize a micromanager?
Research has shown that there are certain signs that you are micromanaging your team.
Do you allow your team to make their own decisions or at least include them in the decision making process, or do you want everything approved by you first?
Do you not trust your team enough to delegate tasks, and take the tasks away from them when they make a small mistake and complete it yourself?
Do you constantly criticize your subordinates without giving them room to make mistakes?
Do you appreciate your team members when they have good ideas, or do you only criticize them when they do something wrong?
Do you trust your employees to work from home and get annoyed by small delays and check in with them every half hour?
These are signs of a micromanager who kills employee creativity and innovation by constantly breathing down their necks and expecting them to be productive.
HR Managers should identify micromanagers and intervene before the culture and the work environment are damaged. The company will eventually suffer negative consequences, such as losing top-performing employees and customers.
Why some managers micromanage?
There are a few reasons why some managers may micromanage:
Lack of trust: A manager may micromanage if they don't trust their team members to complete tasks or make decisions on their own.
Lack of delegation skills: Some managers don't know how to effectively delegate tasks or responsibilities to their team.
Need for control: They want to maintain tight control over every aspect of the work being done.
Fear of failure: They fear their team will make mistakes or fail to meet expectations.
Lack of confidence in the team: They don't believe their team has the skills or expertise to complete tasks independently.
Micromanaging can be detrimental to team morale and productivity, and it's generally more effective for managers to trust their team members and provide support and guidance rather than trying to control every aspect of the work being done.
According to Ron Ashkenas at Harvard Business Review, "many managers complain that they have worked for micromanagers in their careers. But they never admit to being one."
How micromanagement negatively impacts your business
The negative effects of micromanagement overshadow the positive ones.
According to Forbes magazine, constantly criticizing employees leads to self-doubt, and employees will begin to question their abilities, resulting in low self-confidence. Your colleagues will start to hate you because you do not allow them to use their skills and full potential.
Also, it's outrageous to do all the work yourself and not trust others enough to delegate the work.
Micromanagers are not productive because they are too busy doing the work of others and they have no time left to do more important work such as people management, performance reviews, developing strategies for more effective marketing to boost sales.
Some of the biggest disadvantages of micromanagement are:
1. Increase in frustration and stress.
Micromanagement is bad thing, and there is no spot for it in the workplace. It increases stress and frustration for managers and employees because it signals to team members a negative connotation of disbelief or distrust.
Direct reports feel constant pressure to provide status reports on the tasks in, say, project management instead of focusing on being creative or excellently completing the assigned task.
Managers may have good intentions when micromanaging because they are responsible for the team's productivity, but they also feel stressed when they micromanage because they can't convince themselves to trust team members and unnecessarily put themselves under pressure that they may have to do the work all by themselves.
2. Low productivity levels.
According to Business Insider, micromanagement can destroy your business and lead to poor results because employees are unhappy, turnover increases, and there is a lack of creativity and freedom.
An example of a failed micromanagement strategy is Steve Jobs' early days of Apple. He micromanaged everything and without trusting the professionals and delegating the work, tried to do everything himself and failed.
When he departed from Apple and started Pixar, he changed his management style. He gave managers the freedom to be creative and innovative, and the result was a great success as employee productivity increased.
Steve Jobs learned from his experiences at Pixar and returned to Apple as a better manager. He delegated most of his work to the talented employees in the inner circle. The result was that Apple became the most valuable company in the world.
3. Poor mental health.
Research on micromanagement shows that it is the leading cause of poor employee mental health, stress, anxiety and depression. This management style is often practiced by managers who are driven by their ego, low IQ, inexperience and insecurity.
According to LinkedIn, behaviors like disrespectful and judgmental bosses can affect an employee's mental health. They need to find daily distractions to stay healthy.
Managers should give their team the right direction and the end goal that project at hand is supposed to achieve. It certainly necessary to check in regularly with the progress in the work process of each team member's part, and discussing details and emerging issues.
A good team leader avoids micromanagement. Instead, motivate the team members by demonstrating genuine trust that they can come up with the best work. You may still be closely observing a few of those team members you think need more assistance but do not judge fast and still give them space to concentrate on their work.
The first step to showing your faith in your team members is to delegate them, empower them to make decisions, encourage them to try other ways, be creative, take initiative, come up with alternative solutions to problems and not fear making mistakes. Do not obsess on small details if they are a little deviated from what you exactly expected.
4. Impairing growth potential through lack of creativity.
According to Inc.com, employees who are treated like lab rats and constantly scrutinized get tired of doing the same thing day in and day out.
Employees avoid giving feedback or making suggestions because they fear their supervisor's toxic reaction. Employees should have authority for time management and freedom to develop ideas, adopt innovative practices, and make decisions. This is not possible when a micromanager hinders creativity and puts the company's growth potential in a vicious cycle.
5. Morale dies, and so does innovation.
According to a study on the negative effects of micromanagement, the impact on morale is at the top of the list. The two management styles lead from a position of empowerment, the other being micromanagement.
Of these two styles, managers who lead from a position of empowerment always achieve positive results in terms of performance, building trust, commitment, and overall employee satisfaction.
On the other hand, the micromanagement style leads to a lack of confidence, stress, and an inability to take creative risks. As a result, employee morale immediately plummets, which can be disastrous for the organization.
If you work under a boss with a micromanaging style, it is critical for your mental health and well-being that you recognize the micromanager and develop strategies to divert your attention.
Micromanagers are obsessed with seeing every detail in their business and do not like to delegate work. Employees are often yelled at, belittled and not allowed to make mistakes.
This micromanagement style stifles employees' productivity, creativity, and creative abilities, and does irreplaceable damage to their self-esteem and self-confidence due to the lack of trust.
You should avoid micromanagement at all costs and start building good relationship with your team members. Step back and look at the big picture. Question yourself and identify the reasons for micromanaging. Work on yourself to change those attributes. Find a mentor, engage with great leaders, go to leadership workshops, network with successful managers.
People management skills are essential to become a good team leader, advancing your career as an upper-level manager, and getting the ultimate productivity from your team.