“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” ― Steve Jobs.

Micromanagement can have devastating consequences for both employees and organizations. Unfortunately, many leaders adopt micromanagement, believing it will optimize and accelerate results. Even if short-term results are achieved, the long-term ripple effects have the precise opposite effect. From reduced employee morale to loss of trust, minimized creativity, and physical illness. The mounting stress of micromanagement often leaves your shining innovators seeking a healthier and more aligned company culture.

What is Micromanagement?

Let’s begin by exploring Harvard Business Review’s definition of micromanagement. Many mistake it as a personality trait or leadership style. It’s actually a breakdown in the fundamentals of delegation. This is one of the many reasons why delegation is often referenced as an art.

What is worse, is that micromanaging is contagious. Those who are being micromanaged may begin responding to their team and colleagues in the same manner as a response to the pressure being put on them. If not addressed rapidly, it will spread rapidly throughout your organization.

Understanding that micromanagers are poor delegators, presents you with a training opportunity.

Also, we are in the midst of The Great Resignation. Employees have never been more empowered. Currently, 82% of employees surveyed across 10 different industries stated that they will leave a job if the morale is low. This number is up over 20% since the pandemic began.

How to Identify Micromanagement?

In times of change and stress, even the best leaders can adopt micromanagement. Some leaders are new, and micromanagement is part of their learning curve. For others, it is their full-time management style. Once a micromanager is identified, you and your HR team can determine the training required to create a healthier and more productive management style.

Common traits of micromanagers include:

  • Being unable to delegate even simple tasks or small portions of projects.
  • Being overly involved in their teams’ projects to a point that they decrease efficiency.
  • Discouraging or reprimanding team members for independent decision-making.
  • Confusing their need for overly detailed and constant updates as open lines of communication.
  • Measuring and monitoring everything, including non-essential details.
  • Asking for new ideas but always shutting them down.
  • Frequently pulls employees away from essential tasks for “emergencies” that aren’t truly emergencies.
  • Consistently unrealistic expectations and deadlines.
  • Consistently delivers lower-than-average outcomes.
  • Rarely, if ever, taking accountability for their role in failures.
  • Blaming others for their mistakes
  • A higher-than-average employee turnover.
Is Micromanagement Why Your Innovation Program is Failing 1

#1 Employee Morale

Employees are your most vital asset. Your organization’s ability to sustain itself in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace is directly linked to your ability to innovate. Your employees’ ability to innovate is hindered when morale is low.

Constant micromanagement is demeaning and dwindles morale. It communicates that you do not trust your team, which takes a toll on their confidence. Most employees, if not all, want to feel they are trusted, giving them the freedom to unleash their creativity.

When employees are constantly monitored, they are less likely to:

  • Share their ideas
  • Think outside of the box
  • Suggest calculated risks

#2 Micromanagement Stifles Creativity

The most important ingredient for the creativity that breeds innovation, is creating a safe space for ideas to flourish. By micromanaging, your team isn’t only underutilized, they are stifled and constrained. When employees feel pressure to keep their noses to the grindstone, they invest most of their time looking over their shoulders instead of thinking big.

Instead of micromanaging, articulate the objectives, guidelines, and timeline. Then, step back and provide the space required for healthy innovation. Group brainstorming sessions, check-ins, and communication are still part of the process, but there is a vital difference between healthy communication and hovering.

#3 Loss of Trust

Trust is the foundation of every relationship, whether professional or personal. Micromanagement degrades trust. Once trust is lost, it’s extremely difficult to restore. Employees who feel they can’t trust their manager don’t feel safe. Instead of increasing innovation and efficiency, they spend their day in survival mode. They are also more likely to second-guess their work as it begins to feel like nothing is ever “good enough”.

Even if the micromanagement is only in one department, it creates a toxic environment.

  • Essential questions don’t get asked or answered.
  • More mistakes are made, not less.
  • Fewer lessons are learned from mistakes and failures.
  • Employees never rise to their full potential.
  • Once high-performing teams begin to underperform.

On the flip side, empowered employees feel valued and confident. This builds the trust required to go above and beyond and deliver on your innovation objectives.

#4 Physical and Mental Health

Some would argue that micromanagement is a form of bullying. Statistically, both bullying and micromanagement increases the rate of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Daily fatigue
  • Stress
  • Lack of motivation
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Fear of retaliation

When just one team member is experiencing any of the stressors above, it can hinder innovation. If the majority of the team is feeling the stressors above, innovation is far from the only issue as they aren’t a healthy or sustainable way to live—or operate an organization.

#5 Increased Employee Turnover

“People quit people, not companies” John Maxwell

Why Your Innovation Program is Failing

Leaders who micromanage often have a higher-than-average team turnover rate. This is one reason to assess both company-wide and individual team turnover. The higher up a leader is, the more micromanagement trickles down. Whether isolated or company-wide, employees will resign. Those who stay are likely to be resentful.

High turnover combined with resentful, stressed, and anxious teams don’t innovate or deliver the quality required to remain competitive.

Is Micromanagement Why Your Organization’s Innovation Program is Failing?

If you aren’t sure why your innovation program is failing, it may not be a lack of skill—but an internal culture that stifles innovation. Empower your HR team to do what they do best by assessing turnover, performing exit interviews, facilitating anonymous employee surveys, curating tailored skills training, and creating equitable systems of accountability. It will take time to rebuild trust, but the sooner you address micromanagement, the sooner innovation will return.

As always, IdeaScale is here to help bring your innovations to life!

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” ― Steve Jobs.

Micromanagement can have devastating consequences for both employees and organizations. Unfortunately, many leaders adopt micromanagement, believing it will optimize and accelerate results. Even if short-term results are achieved, the long-term ripple effects have the precise opposite effect. From reduced employee morale to loss of trust, minimized creativity, and physical illness. The mounting stress of micromanagement often leaves your shining innovators seeking a healthier and more aligned company culture.

What is Micromanagement?

Let’s begin by exploring Harvard Business Review’s definition of micromanagement. Many mistake it as a personality trait or leadership style. It’s actually a breakdown in the fundamentals of delegation. This is one of the many reasons why delegation is often referenced as an art.

What is worse, is that micromanaging is contagious. Those who are being micromanaged may begin responding to their team and colleagues in the same manner as a response to the pressure being put on them. If not addressed rapidly, it will spread rapidly throughout your organization.

Understanding that micromanagers are poor delegators, presents you with a training opportunity.

Also, we are in the midst of The Great Resignation. Employees have never been more empowered. Currently, 82% of employees surveyed across 10 different industries stated that they will leave a job if the morale is low. This number is up over 20% since the pandemic began.

How to Identify Micromanagement?

In times of change and stress, even the best leaders can adopt micromanagement. Some leaders are new, and micromanagement is part of their learning curve. For others, it is their full-time management style. Once a micromanager is identified, you and your HR team can determine the training required to create a healthier and more productive management style.

Common traits of micromanagers include:

  • Being unable to delegate even simple tasks or small portions of projects.
  • Being overly involved in their teams’ projects to a point that they decrease efficiency.
  • Discouraging or reprimanding team members for independent decision-making.
  • Confusing their need for overly detailed and constant updates as open lines of communication.
  • Measuring and monitoring everything, including non-essential details.
  • Asking for new ideas but always shutting them down.
  • Frequently pulls employees away from essential tasks for “emergencies” that aren’t truly emergencies.
  • Consistently unrealistic expectations and deadlines.
  • Consistently delivers lower-than-average outcomes.
  • Rarely, if ever, taking accountability for their role in failures.
  • Blaming others for their mistakes
  • A higher-than-average employee turnover.
Is Micromanagement Why Your Innovation Program is Failing 1

#1 Employee Morale

Employees are your most vital asset. Your organization’s ability to sustain itself in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace is directly linked to your ability to innovate. Your employees’ ability to innovate is hindered when morale is low.

Constant micromanagement is demeaning and dwindles morale. It communicates that you do not trust your team, which takes a toll on their confidence. Most employees, if not all, want to feel they are trusted, giving them the freedom to unleash their creativity.

When employees are constantly monitored, they are less likely to:

  • Share their ideas
  • Think outside of the box
  • Suggest calculated risks

#2 Micromanagement Stifles Creativity

The most important ingredient for the creativity that breeds innovation, is creating a safe space for ideas to flourish. By micromanaging, your team isn’t only underutilized, they are stifled and constrained. When employees feel pressure to keep their noses to the grindstone, they invest most of their time looking over their shoulders instead of thinking big.

Instead of micromanaging, articulate the objectives, guidelines, and timeline. Then, step back and provide the space required for healthy innovation. Group brainstorming sessions, check-ins, and communication are still part of the process, but there is a vital difference between healthy communication and hovering.

#3 Loss of Trust

Trust is the foundation of every relationship, whether professional or personal. Micromanagement degrades trust. Once trust is lost, it’s extremely difficult to restore. Employees who feel they can’t trust their manager don’t feel safe. Instead of increasing innovation and efficiency, they spend their day in survival mode. They are also more likely to second-guess their work as it begins to feel like nothing is ever “good enough”.

Even if the micromanagement is only in one department, it creates a toxic environment.

  • Essential questions don’t get asked or answered.
  • More mistakes are made, not less.
  • Fewer lessons are learned from mistakes and failures.
  • Employees never rise to their full potential.
  • Once high-performing teams begin to underperform.

On the flip side, empowered employees feel valued and confident. This builds the trust required to go above and beyond and deliver on your innovation objectives.

#4 Physical and Mental Health

Some would argue that micromanagement is a form of bullying. Statistically, both bullying and micromanagement increases the rate of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Daily fatigue
  • Stress
  • Lack of motivation
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Fear of retaliation

When just one team member is experiencing any of the stressors above, it can hinder innovation. If the majority of the team is feeling the stressors above, innovation is far from the only issue as they aren’t a healthy or sustainable way to live—or operate an organization.

#5 Increased Employee Turnover

“People quit people, not companies” John Maxwell

Why Your Innovation Program is Failing

Leaders who micromanage often have a higher-than-average team turnover rate. This is one reason to assess both company-wide and individual team turnover. The higher up a leader is, the more micromanagement trickles down. Whether isolated or company-wide, employees will resign. Those who stay are likely to be resentful.

High turnover combined with resentful, stressed, and anxious teams don’t innovate or deliver the quality required to remain competitive.

Is Micromanagement Why Your Organization’s Innovation Program is Failing?

If you aren’t sure why your innovation program is failing, it may not be a lack of skill—but an internal culture that stifles innovation. Empower your HR team to do what they do best by assessing turnover, performing exit interviews, facilitating anonymous employee surveys, curating tailored skills training, and creating equitable systems of accountability. It will take time to rebuild trust, but the sooner you address micromanagement, the sooner innovation will return.

As always, IdeaScale is here to help bring your innovations to life!

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