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Micro-management's Impact on Engagement & Productivity

It doesn’t seem to matter what age, industry, or even profession… we’ve all come across them at some point in the workplace, and while most have good intentions, their style could actually tank the business’s operations.

I’m talking about the micro-manager.

In my 40+ years of working to streamline operations, I can tell you, this is the absolute wrong way to run a business.

You might be thinking, Greg, I’m not a micro-manager, I just like to keep an eye on operations, and I have a knack for ensuring things get done – right down to the very last detail.

While you’re absolutely making an impact on your company and employees, I’m sorry to tell you it’s probably not a good one.

For those who aren’t familiar, micro-management is the overbearing control and excessive scrutiny of employees' work. And it brings with it a plethora of consequences. Its impact affects productivity, employee morale, creativity, the overall health of an organization, and more.

Today we’re exploring the detrimental effects of micro-management across four crucial aspects of the workplace. Let’s get into it.


Time Wasted

Right off the bat, this leadership style is a huge time-suck. Micro-managers often get caught up in overseeing every minor detail, leading to a significant loss of time, both for themselves and their team. Studies indicate that approximately 71% of employees spend more than two hours a week navigating through unnecessary follow-ups and clarifications due to micro-management. This equates to billions of dollars lost annually in the US alone due to decreased productivity. All because of managers who don’t trust their employees to complete their duties.

And wasted time aside, talk about a turnoff for staff. Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review reveals that excessive micro-management can cause a staggering 68% decrease in employee engagement. Employees, feeling stifled and under constant scrutiny, lose their motivation to perform at their best, leading to a substantial waste of time and resources.


Not all Managers are Leaders

There are major differences in being a manager and being a leader. While managers focus on tasks and control, leaders inspire, empower, and nurture their teams. Micro-managers often fail to grasp this fundamental difference. According to Gallup, only 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged at work, with micro-management being a significant contributing factor. Leaders encourage autonomy and trust their teams to deliver results, fostering a culture of innovation and growth. When leaders give trust and respect to their workforce, it pays dividends.


Company Culture Suffers

Micro-management erodes trust within a team and undermines a positive work culture. When employees feel constantly monitored and mistrusted, it creates an atmosphere of fear and stifles their ability to perform their duties. Gallup reports that 45% of employees are stressed when they feel they lack control over their work environment, impacting their mental health and overall job satisfaction.

And when job satisfaction suffers, turnover rates increase. When employees feel undervalued, they’ll seek workplaces where their skills and contributions are appreciated and trusted. Think about how many businesses are hiring today. Nearly all of them. In order to keep your employees from jumping on the fence and searching for where the grass is greener, think about how you can keep things green in your own organization. High turnover rates can cost a company significant resources, with typical expenses of around 33% of an employee's annual salary to replace them.


Operations Cannot Be Streamlined

One of the primary goals of effective management is to streamline operations for efficiency. However, micro-managers often impede this by centralizing decision-making and bottlenecking processes. To counter this, self-paced autonomous training plays a pivotal role. By empowering employees to learn and adapt at their own pace, organizations can remove friction, standardize processes and streamline operations effectively.

According to a report by McKinsey, companies that invest in comprehensive self-paced learning programs witness a 10-15% increase in productivity. When employees are given the autonomy to train and improve their skills according to their pace and needs, they become more adaptable, innovative, and efficient.

Pro Tip: New hires are 82% more likely to stick around if they have a strong onboarding experience. Their first 90 days is pivotal! For more onboarding secrets, click here.


Final Thought

 Micro-management, though often well-intentioned, has far-reaching negative effects on the workplace. To counter this, fostering a culture that values autonomy, trust, and self-paced learning is crucial. Companies that prioritize leadership over mere management and encourage learning and development not only alleviate the negative impacts of micro-management but also pave the way for a more productive, innovative, and engaged workforce.


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