Managing without micromanaging


Remote and hybrid working has caused physical distance between employees and their managers. To compensate, some managers are micromanaging their staff at every opportunity.

What is micromanaging?

A micromanager differs from a regular manager because micromanagement involves closely observing and controlling the work of team members. Going beyond an appropriate level of leadership and support, micromanagement involves excessive and often unwanted supervision of employees. Gartner defines micromanagement as “a pattern of manager behaviour marked by excessive supervision and control of employees’ work and processes, as well as a limited delegation of tasks or decisions to staff.”

Examples of micromanaging involve constant check-ins and calls, unnecessary meetings, overly detailed instructions, assuming a superior role and monitoring every detail of a team member’s day-to-day activity. Micromanagers are sometimes referred to as helicopter bosses, who hover around employees to ensure they are working to their expectations.

Micromanagement has risen in the last few years, especially since the introduction of remote and hybrid working. With fewer people in the office, many managers have questioned whether staff are actually working from home. This can mean they feel the need to check in more frequently, which eventually spirals into micromanagement. But all of these actions take time away and prevent employees from working productively.

Impact on employees

If done properly, there are a few benefits to micromanaging such as less miscommunication and supporting correct performance, particularly for new members of staff. However, the cons outweigh the pros.

One of the biggest issues with micromanaging is that it causes loss of trust between a manager and their team member. This leads to a range of other issues that can ultimately lead to lower staff retention. A 2022 survey of 2,100 UK employees, conducted by Visier, found that 43 per cent of workers, the equivalent of two out of five, have left a job because of their manager, while 53 per cent are currently looking to switch roles due to their current manager.

Lack of trust causes workers to feel disengaged and lowers their self-worth as they begin to question whether they are capable of doing their jobs. Not to mention, it prevents employees from making decisions and demonstrating their capabilities. This leads to workers feeling stressed, uncomfortable and, ultimately, performing at a much lower standard.

While managers may think bombarding employees with tasks and instructions is going to make them work harder, it instead has the opposite effect, and is detrimental to the success of a company.

Lessening the pressure

The last thing businesses want is to negatively impact their employee’s performance. But to monitor individual KPIs, it’s important to monitor productivity. So how do you strike the balance of managing, without micromanaging?

Firstly, it’s important to ensure employees have the appropriate business software to improve ease and efficiency of day-to-day tasks. And this doesn’t need to be invasive productivity monitoring software.

For example, Ringover provides numerous collaboration and productivity tools for different business needs from assigning call tags, which enable agents to learn more about prospects or customers, and the transcription of calls and voicemails to eliminate manually transcribing calls, saving agents time and allowing them to focus on more valuable actions.

But what should businesses do next? Investing in software that automatically records data including call wait time, average call length and pick-up rate, and generates this information into reports, means managers can monitor specific KPIs. If the data indicates shortfalls in productivity in a certain area, then managers can make the call about how to resolve it — without needing to make their observation obvious and uncomfortable for the employee. Collecting and observing data over a long period of time can give managers the bigger picture and prevent them from analysing every little detail about an employee’s performance.

Overall, micromanaging is counterproductive, and only in rare cases does this method work. With more people considering leaving their jobs because of their manager, businesses must be aware of the impact of micromanaging if they are to retain a productive workforce. With the help of software that can deliver insights and analytics into employee performance, managers can effectively manage, without the need to micromanage.