The Cost of Micromanagement: How It Impacts Productivity and Innovation



20 November, 2023

The Cost of Micromanagement: How It Impacts Productivity and Innovation

As it is rightly said, ‘excess of everything is bad in life’.

In the intricate dance of management, finding the delicate balance between oversight and autonomy is crucial.  It brings a sense of calm and helps in sorting out things easily. However, when management is used at every micro-level, it rather brings out a negative impact than a positive one. It often affects employees’ morale, creativity and overall workplace dynamics.

What is Micromanagement?

Breaking down the word, ‘micro’ means small and management means handling activities or tasks and putting them in an order.

Micromanagement, therefore, refers to a management style marked by excessive supervision and nudging the employees.

In a workplace, micromanagement is seen as a negative term. Micromanagement allows the managers/seniors to criticise and nudge the subordinates constantly rather than instructing and guiding them when needed.

It rather becomes an exasperating exercise than a useful activity in an organisation. There might be higher profits and returns using micromanagement but you won’t have your employees working at a company for a long time then.

How Does Micromanagement Bring a Negative Impact at the Workplace?

As discussed, micromanagement rather affects the employees negatively than encouraging them. This brings a feeling of less professionalism, lack of trust and free choice at the workplace.

1. Hindrance in Self-Taken Actions

Micromanagement breeds a culture where employees feel the need to seek permission for every minor step. This constant need for approval can make them question their competence and professionalism, contributing to a positive work environment.

If the employees are given the freedom of choice to make decisions for some tasks by themselves, the attitude of professionalism and seriousness towards work increases in itself.

However, hindering them from using their free will and stopping them from making decisions usually results in a negative attitude in the employees.

2. Decreased Productivity and Morale

Generally in life as well, when a person is constantly instructed and given a plan to follow without deviating, the productivity and morale of the person goes down with time. When an organisation shows trust in the employees and lets them make decisions freely even if at times this might not lead to the best profitability, the confidence level of the employees boosts up, and they give more of themselves into the work to bring innovation.

When they are always stopped from using their creativity or instructed at every level or are not given enough credit or responsibility, they often follow the given set of instructions without putting any special effort and thus, productivity often decreases for the work.

Then for them, it is more like passing the time rather than walking to their best efforts.

3. Risk-Averseness

When micromanagement is employed in organisations to the extent that the employees cannot think or carry out duties of their own free will, this often puts a stop to the risk attitude that they carry. Since they always will have to answer to the higher authorities for every little thing and are not allowed to do a task freely.

They will often stop themselves from taking risks even if that step is rewarding so their inherent nature of taking a risk to make a profit will be overshadowed by the thinking that they are not responsible enough, for their opinions do not matter enough.

4. Lack of Trust and Relationships among Work Peers

Since micromanaging allows higher authorities to keep putting pointers and keep overlooking the work of the subordinates, this might affect the relationship between the two.

Trust in relationships is built when the employees in an organisation in a vertical hierarchy can help out each other.

However, if the higher authorities keep judging the subordinate’s needs and do not let them to follow their own will during work, this can annoy the subordinates and they might not look towards the authorities in a manner of respect.

5. Lanky and Cynical Work Attitude

Since an employee will not be free to do the work on his own terms and conditions and make use of his/her creativity, the employee will have a gloomy and less-encouraging attitude towards the work.

 Most of the time, the worker will carry out his duties or complete his work, just for the sake of it. His professionalism will be challenged and he will not be giving the best to the work.

What do the Employees say?

Several surveys have been carried out that tested out employees working under micromanagement. All of such surveys have had the same thing to say: ‘Micromanagement is the best way to discourage employees’. The following pointers sum up what the surveys had found out for the micromanaged employees:

  • Look for job change
  • Quit the job due to excess pressure
  • No respect/loyalty for the organisation
  • Badmouthing the employer and managers
  • Low-self esteem, stress and depression
  • Opposite views of leaders and employees

Leave behind Micromanagement and Opt for Macromanagement!

Now that we have gone over the reason why micromanagement is a way to introduce chaos into the workplace, the substitute for it is ‘macromanagement’. Macromanagement works in the opposite style to managing the organisation in microstyle and rather brings a positive outcome.

How does it work? Have a look.

Macromanagement Micromanagement
Encouraging the employees by giving them power to take decisions Discouraging the employees by not giving them power to take decisions
Accepting opinions and including subordinates in decision-making Not accepting opinions and including subordinates in decision-making
Builds a relationship among the work peers by sharing work opinions freely Breaks down relationship among the work peers by not being able to share work opinions freely
Increased professionalism, productivity, morale and trust Decreased professionalism, productivity, morale and trust
Positive outcome for organisation at micro and macro levels Negative outcome for organisation at micro and macro levels

Conclusion: Embrace Macromanagement for a Positive Workplace

In conclusion, the perils of micromanagement are evident in its impact on employee well-being, creativity, and overall workplace dynamics. Embracing macromanagement, with its focus on empowerment and positive collaboration, is the key to fostering a thriving and innovative work environment. As organisations strive for success, finding the right balance in management styles becomes paramount to ensuring a harmonious and productive workplace.

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