4 Mishaps of Micromanagement in the Workplace

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4 Mishaps of Micromanagement in the Workplace

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines micromanagement as “management especially with excessive control or attention on details”. Dictionary.com defines micromanagement as “management or control with excessive attention to minor details”. The online dictionary Encarta defined micromanagement as “attention to small details in management: that is; control of a person or a situation by paying extreme attention to small details”.

The notion of micromanagement can be extended to any social context where one person takes a bully approach in the level of control and influence over the members of a group. Often, this excessive obsession with the most minute of details causes a direct management failure in the ability to focus on the major details.

What’s so bad about micromanagement anyway?

Managers who fail at determining the correct amount of guidance and direction they should provide employees are often guilty of micromanagement.

Tiya Ivy writes: “In some limited circumstances, especially after hiring a new recruit who may need temporary micromanagement until they settle in and familiarize themselves with their role, it could actually help build morale so long as the goal behind it is that it is temporary, and only utilized to help an employee become independent.

Unfortunately though, many managers guilty of long-term, debilitating micromanagement, are completely oblivious to the destructive effects they are having on an entire organization as a whole. At it’s best, micromanagement impedes evolution, at it’s worst, it causes the entire organization to decay from the inside out.

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Harry Chambers in his book My Way or the Highway, writes: “it is interesting that confusion and being unsure  causes managers to micromanage in order to try to control every situation, but consequently, since micromanagers usually don’t provide clear direction or establish clear expectations it is a losing situation. Micromanagers expect employees to be able to read their minds and that leads to employees feeling like failures because they’re not mind readers.”

Kathleen Rao, author of My Boss is a Jerk: How to Survive and Thrive in a Difficult Work Environment Under the Control of a Bad Boss, points out common damages and consequences of working for a ‘bully boss’. Here are four among the points below: 


This can affect the employee’s work and home life. Stalking employees and their every move kills workplace productivity.

Health problems

Jonathan D. Quick, instructor at Harvard and coauthor of Preventive Stress Management in Organizations, says that “the leadership qualities of ‘bad’ bosses over time exert a heavy toll on employees’ health.” Among them are; increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, sleep problems, chronic stress, and it even drives employees to smoke, drink and overeat.

Job insecurity

Employees who work under the supervision of a micromanager often live with the fear of being demoted or losing their jobs every day.

Emotional strain

If all a manager does is to undermine or scrap employess work altogether and provide them with detailed instructions on how the task should instead be carried out, will cause emotional downturn. This, however, will cause a project’s progress to slow down dramatically as employees will have to redo and redo their work until it meets the micromanager’s absurd requirements. due to verbal or emotional abuse from the manager, which negatively impacts self-esteem.

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How to effectively deal with micromanagement

The best way to deal with micromanagers is to try to give them all the information they need. They feel insecure if they don’t know what’s going on or are unprepared. They thrive on details, so provide them with detailed reports. Do well to clarify with them exactly what they’re looking for. It is the only way you will know what’s expected, because the micromanager expects you to automatically know what they want, they’re not going to volunteer the information. You have to ask them specifically what is needed, in what format and by when.

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