What The Buzz? Volume 5: Micromanagement

Ghina Fahs
May 18, 2023
What The Buzz? Volume 5: Micromanagement
Employee experience
People management

Hello hello and welcome back to alfii's What The Buzz series!

Every month, we run a poll on our LinkedIn page, and based on your votes, we select a popular industry term that’s making the rounds on various platforms, including LinkedIn, blogs, articles, casual discussions, and of course, memes! Our aim is to delve into the term's actual significance and come back to you with a comprehensive understanding of it so that you can stay in the know.

So, shall we dive in? Buzz it, let’s get started:

This month’s buzzword is Micromanagement: a term that’s likely to make employees everywhere wince. Micromanagement refers to a managerial style that involves over-scrutinizing an employee's work, exerting too much control over their day-to-day tasks, and generally not giving them autonomy to get the job done. And while micromanagers may think that they're helping to improve productivity, the truth is that micromanagement, in most cases, is actually a silent productivity killer.

The numbers don’t lie. According to a recent survey conducted by Accountemps, up to 59% of individuals have had the experience of being micromanaged at some stage in their professional life. Among those who reported working under a micromanager, 68% stated that it had a negative impact on their morale, while 55% reported a reduction in their productivity as a result of the management style.

Before we dive into this, however, keep in mind that there are a few instances where a bit of micromanagement might be useful. For example, when managing sensitive situations like onboarding new team members that need some guidance to kick-start their journeys, or high-risk scenarios such as a construction team demolishing a building.

As we move forward, we’ll be exploring what micromanagement is, versus what it isn't, how it impacts employees, and how it impacts companies.

Here’s what micromanagement is:

  • A management style where a manager closely observes and controls every aspect of an employee's work.
  • A way for managers to gain a false sense of control over the work being done.
  • A way for managers to feel an unsustainable sense of security in their positions. Soon enough, it gets exhausting.
  • A way to ensure that work is being done in a specific way.
  • Time-consuming and stressful for managers. Constantly micromanaging employees can eat up a huge chunk of a manager's day, leaving them little time for more important tasks.
  • An unhealthy exercise of “power” and the opposite of great leadership.
  • A key ingredient for a toxic work environment.
  • Chasing unattainable perfectionism.
  • Trying to control the task, not the outcome, and a tendency to focus on minor details rather than the bigger picture.
  • Often ignoring feedback.
  • A lack of trust in employees' abilities to perform their jobs without constant supervision.
  • Sometimes linked to productivity paranoia.

Here’s what micromanagement is not:

  • Providing regular feedback and coaching to help employees improve their performance.
  • A healthy way to build trust with employees.
  • A hands-on approach to management that provides guidance and support to employees when needed.
  • The same thing as providing necessary training or resources to help employees succeed in their roles.
  • The right way to encourage creativity and innovation.
  • Allowing team members to take ownership of their work and make decisions within their scope of responsibility.
  • Empowering or motivating to employees whatsoever.
  • A leadership style that fosters a positive and productive work environment.
  • Setting clear expectations and goals for employees.
  • A part of a positive and healthy employee experience.

Here’s how micromanagement impacts employees:

  • Reduced job satisfaction: It's tough to feel happy at work when you feel like you have no control over what you do and that the people you spend the most time with don’t value your contributions. Nobody wants to feel like that, not even managers.
  • Increased stress: Micromanagement can create a tense and anxious atmosphere at work. Employees might feel like they’re walking on eggshells all the time, worrying that they’re going to mess something up or that their boss is going to jump down their throats. All that stress can take a serious toll on employee wellbeing.
  • Decreased motivation: When employees are micromanaged, it's easy to start feeling like their managers don't trust them to do their job. That can be a real motivation killer, because it can create a sense of feeling like nothing they do really matters anyway. That's a crappy way to feel at work.
  • Stifled creativity and innovation: Micromanagement can crush creativity and innovation, as employees are too busy following orders to come up with new ideas. Employees who are constantly being told what to do and how to do it are unlikely to take risks or come up with new ideas. And that can be a real shame, because who knows? They might have some amazing ideas if they were just given the chance to think outside the box.
  • Reduced autonomy: When people don't feel like they have any say in what they do at work, it can be really frustrating. They might start feeling like they’re not being treated like a real adult who can make their own decisions.

Here’s how micromanagement impacts companies:

  • Decreased productivity: When managers get too involved in every little thing their employees do, it can slow down progress and create a bottleneck effect, as managers become too involved in every aspect of their employees' work. As a result, managers waste time on meaningless hyperfixation, while employees become demotivated to produce genuine work.
  • Increased turnover: When employees feel like they're being micromanaged, they might start to feel like they're not trusted or valued, which might make them more likely to leave their jobs. And when people start quitting left and right, that can lead to all kinds of problems, like decreased morale and increased workload for the people who are left.
  • Poor reputation: ​​Companies that have a reputation for micromanaging might have trouble attracting top talent. After all, who wants to work somewhere that doesn't trust its employees to do their jobs? If people hear that a company is a micromanaging nightmare, they might think twice about applying for a job there.
  • Decreased innovation: When people are too busy following orders to come up with new ideas, it's hard to innovate. And when innovation takes a back seat, growth can grind to a halt. Companies that want to stay competitive need to be able to think creatively and come up with new ways to do things. Micromanagement can really put a damper on that.
  • Decreased morale: Nobody wants to work in a culture of fear and anxiety. When people feel like they're being micromanaged, it can create a negative and toxic work environment. This ultimately decreases morale, and when morale is low, it's much harder to get people excited about their work.

Uh-oh, are you a micromanager?

So, if you're a boss and you're guilty of micromanaging, the first thing you need to do is admit it's a problem. It’s important to realize that your behavior is making your employees miserable and hurting your business. Once you've accepted that, you can start making changes to cut back on the micromanaging.

Some strategies that might help include setting clear expectations, delegating tasks, and giving employees more ownership over their work. And listen, we know it can be hard to let go of control and trust your employees to do their jobs, but it's worth it!

When you let your employees have some freedom to make their own decisions, it can make a huge difference in their productivity, engagement, and overall job satisfaction. It's also important to communicate regularly with your team and give them feedback in a positive and supportive way. This can help build trust and open up opportunities for your employees to ask questions or share their concerns.

Or, are you an employee dealing with a micromanager?

Here are some quick tips for dealing with a micromanager at work:

  • Try to establish clear expectations with your manager.
  • Keep them updated on your progress and ask for feedback in advance.
  • Don't take their behavior personally.
  • Consider having an honest conversation with them about how their micromanaging is affecting you.
  • Focus on building trust with your manager by being reliable and consistent.


To all the bosses out there, if you're willing to admit that micromanagement is a real buzzkill for your employees, then taking steps to reduce it could make your workplace a much better environment for all! By doing so, you might increase job satisfaction, reduce stress levels, and foster a more creative and successful business. Letting go of the reins a bit could lead to happier workers and a more vibrant company culture!

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