How to Manage without Micromanaging

Oct 1, 2023 | Project Management | 0 comments

By Rose Bowden

Let’s face it, no manager wants to be accused of micromanaging their employees. Micromanaging has a tremendously negative reputation among managers and employees alike- and for a very good reason. There is no faster way to tank employee morale than to micromanage them. But what is micromanaging? And how can competent managers effectively avoid it?

What is Micromanaging? 

Micromanagement occurs when managers take an excessive interest in the day-to-day tasks and productivity of their employees. This is distinct from accountability. While a manager that seeks to hold their employees accountable may check in on their progress and demand explanations when targets haven’t been met, a micromanager will do this to a truly excessive degree. A micromanager may check in with their employees via email or in person multiple times a day, demanding explanations when the employee hasn’t met targets for that day rather than for the project. Micromanagers can tend to manage a project so closely where it limits the creativity and freedom of their employee. 

Micromanaging can be disastrous in the workplace. It leads to employees feeling as though they live under a microscope. This can lead to paradoxical decreases in productivity. Micromanaging does not encourage employees to try their best, or to branch out and innovate. It only encourages them to “appear” productive and make their managers happy. It also has the side effect of impeding concentration, as employees wind up more concerned about pleasing their managers than they are with creating a truly exceptional final product. 

What should you do instead? 

It can be tempting to view management as a top-down process, much akin to the relationship between a parent and a child. This is to be avoided. Instead, managers should seek to be collaborative players with the teams that they’re tasked with managing. Managers should seek to hold their employees accountable. 

This looks, first and foremost, with treating your team members as the adults that they are. Expectations should be clearly communicated to the team so that everyone knows not only what is expected of them, but when those milestones are expected. The lines of communication should always be freely open – employees should not be afraid to communicate problems in the workflow to management as they happen. This is a tactic that can often head problems with the project off at the pass, enabling milestones to be met on or nearly on time. In a micromanaging environment however, this becomes an impossibility. Accountability and communication are key to leading an effective team. 

Accountability also applies to the manager. What this often looks like in practice is being open and receptive to the feedback of your team. If you are a micromanager, your team may be afraid to give you this feedback directly, but it can look like a few things. First, it may present itself as employees asking for more time or space on a project. Asking for constant updates can often have the exact opposite effect when it comes to getting things done on time. It’s important as a manager to occasionally take stock and recognize when you may be being over-bearing and re-adjust your strategy accordingly. 

At the TLP Consulting Group, we teach managers and management teams everything they need to know to improve overall productivity. Contact us today to get started! 

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