There are few bosses worse than micromanagers. We’ve all had a hovering perfectionist – delegating work, then supervising it every step of the way – in our lives. You don’t want to be that person. If you’re not sure if you’re a micromanager, check to see if you have any of these symptoms. As the National Federation of Independent Business writes, “Micromanagement is mismanagement, and under it, the manager, the employees and the business all suffer.”
Here are five reasons why employees hate micromanagers, and some solutions to avoid being the most disliked person in your office.
1. They’ll Hate You For Not Trusting Them
The Problem: Trust is the fundamental building block of any relationship – professional and personal. We like to be trusted. A manager who hovers over an employee, waiting to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, is broadcasting one thing very loudly: “I don’t trust you.” You’re conveying that you don’t believe your employees have the autonomy and skill to do their job. And understandably, they’ll resent you for that.
Solution: If you’ve properly done your job as a manager, you’ve not only hired skilled professionals, you’ve ensured your staff “is well trained and knows how to accomplish what’s expected of them.” Trust them to do their work. If they know you believe in them, it will do wonders for morale and business.
2. They’ll Hate You For Making Them Feel Incompetent
The Problem: Every criticism and correction a micromanager makes will chip away at an employee’s sense of self-worth. With time, you’ll do more and more damage until your workers’ self-esteem is destroyed. They’ll either believe they’re bad workers, or resent you for thinking they are. Either way, the result is that they’ll become demoralized and disgruntled just because they don’t measure up to your perfectionism.
Solution: Just because an employee doesn’t do something exactly as you would, doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong. Follow the great advice from a CEO in our “7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers” article: “I’d rather be out front cheering with a banner than in the back with a whip.” A manager should build their employees up with pride, not tear them down with insecurity.
3. They’ll Hate You Because They Fear You
The Problem: Imagine if every time you made a minor typo in an email and hit “send,” someone yelled “WRONG!” You’d not only a waste more time writing and proofreading emails, you’d be terrified to hit “send.” You’d also start to hate the voice of the person constantly belittling you. That’s the effect micromanagers can have on employees. They’ll focus more on avoiding doing something that might trigger your negative criticism, and focus less on the job at hand. Worst of all, they’ll never want to collaborate or share their valuable insights for fear they won’t be good enough.
Solution: If you ditch the criticisms that come from your perfectionist standards, you’ll remove the minefield of potential failure your employees fear. Stop focusing on what is wrong, and focus on what your employees are doing right.
4. They’ll Hate You For Wasting Their Time
The Problem: If you’re micromanaging, you’re squandering your company’s money and resources. You’re wasting your time by neglecting your work to hover over your employees instead. And you’re wasting their time by interrupting and holding them back from getting more done. Break their workflow, they’ll resent you for it. Especially if they fall behind on work as a result.
Solution: Next time you feel like getting up to over-supervise your employee, stay in your seat and look over what’s on your to-do list. Do that instead. That way you’ll get more done, and so will they. If you do have to check in with an employee, ask what their schedule is like, and avoid keeping them from something important just to satisfy your perfectionism.
5. They’ll Hate You For Ignoring the Big Picture
The Problem: Employees care about making a difference to the company’s bigger picture success. They want their managers to care too. If you’re wasting time on the details instead of the larger company goals, they’ll resent you for holding back the company’s success. It’s their success too, after all. Some micromanagers would argue they are contributing to the bigger picture because the devil is in the details. They’re wrong. Employees want you to be a good manager. If you’re prioritizing the wrong things, you’re demonstrating you aren’t fit to lead.
The Solution: If you are working towards the ultimate success of the company, you’ll inspire employees to do the same. So instead of thinking, “I should see how my employee is doing on that spreadsheet,” asking yourself, “Is there something I can be doing with my time that will make a more significant impact on the company’s larger goals?” The answer will undoubtedly be, “Yes.” Go do that.
Worried that you might be a micromanager? Check out our boss strengths infographic from the Business Owner’s Playbook to learn more about the different boss types.
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