Why Micromanaging Is Killing Your Small Business (and how to change it)

Your attention to detail, whether you’re running a service-based business or building a product, is probably the very thing that makes your company stand out in the market. But should you sweat the small stuff?

Answer: Only if it’s not turning you into a micromanager.

[Are you a micromanager? Take our quiz to find out.]

How micromanagers impact small businesses

Researchers have found that micromanagement is one of the top three reasons why employees leave a job. In a 2014 survey by Accountemps, 68% of respondents reported a decrease in their morale, thanks to their boss’s micromanagement. And a full 55% indicated that micromanagement had a negative impact on their productivity. Then there’s the conditioning you create by making your team be dependent upon you for every approval, every idea, or fixing everything. In other words, they become incapable of working without you.

Author Jack Wallen noted on Pluralsight that teams run by a micromanager frequently lack autonomy and are regularly battling with their own inability to do anything beyond what their micromanager assigns and approves. Investopedia said micromanaging “may produce results in the short-term, but hurt employee and company morale over time.”

Do you have a micromanaging problem?

While none of these signs is unique only to micromanagement, here are some warning signs to help you determine if you have a micromanaging problem:

  • Problem: Low morale or employee engagement.

Is it micromanagement? Whether the problem is micromanagement or something else, employee surveys and 360-degree reviews for management may be beneficial. Remember to keep the answers to these surveys anonymous so employees can freely share their insight and feedback. 

  • Problem: High turnover rate.

Is it micromanagement? Conducting exit interviews can help you determine a number of reasons why your employees are leaving: your competitive salary or benefits aren’t actually competitive, the work-life balance needs improvement, or perhaps there’s a manager problem.

  • Problem: Vacant roles go unfilled.

Is it micromanagement? If employee referrals are low, this can be a key indicator that you have a problem in the workplace. You can also check sites like Glassdoor to see what applicants are saying about your company.

  • Problem: Low productivity and output.

Is it micromanagement? Checking your HR dashboard may help you determine if any one team is stretched too thin. You can also check to see if your managers need to take a break, something micromanagers aren’t always willing to do.

How to stop a cycle of micromanaging

Building trust between a micromanager and their team is the number one solution to a micromanaging problem. You can start with these four simple suggestions:

  1. Set delegation goals. Micromanagers frequently focus too much on the work of their team, which limits the time they spend on their own tasks. Prevent this by adding “delegate” to managers’ goals and track progress throughout the year.
  2. Schedule social opportunities. Employees who have a friend at work are 65% more likely to be engaged in their jobs. Social interactions can also improve communications and build trust between managers and employees.
  3. Enforce vacation policies. Micromanagers may see themselves as indispensable to the team and reluctant to take vacation time. Enforce employees to check out completely so they can witness their teams functioning without them. Just be sure your micromanager isn’t checking in from the road.
  4. Publicly praise employees for a job well done. Train managers to post and share “congratulations” and “thank yous” for individual employees. Not only will this boost employee morale, team praise may also help a mircomanager feel more confident in their team’s abilities.

Have questions about managing employees? Contact our Stratus.hr experts at HR@stratus.hr.

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Concerned you have a micromanaging problem? Find out with this quiz!

Colin Thompson

Author Colin Thompson

Colin is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and manages internal human resources, in addition to servicing clients and overseeing our HR team. In his free time, you’ll find Colin at one of his four son’s ballgames or eating sushi.

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