Part of being a good manager means knowing when to step back and trust your employees to do their jobs. Unfortunately, some bosses have a hard time relinquishing control and letting employees work independently, even after they've been well trained to accomplish their key tasks without constant supervision. Such bosses are known as micromanagers, and they tend to drive workers crazy.
Still, many businesses employ micromanagers, whether they realize it or not. Some top managers may even encourage the approach. But these individuals can damage a company in more ways than you might realize.
The problem with micromanagers
Micromanagers aren't just annoying for employees to deal with; they can also impede worker output and kill morale to the point where employees feel compelled to up and quit. In fact, employees are 50% less productive when they're being micromanaged, according to Bridge by Instructure, an education technology company. Not only that, but 75% of voluntary worker turnover is attributed to micromanagement. And when employees leave, it costs money to recruit talent and bring new hires up to speed.
If you have one or more micromanagers on your team, it's time to step in and get them to change their ways -- before they drive your most valued employees away and cause other issues that hurt your business in the long run.
Training managers to take a step back
Micromanagers aren't beyond hope, and with the right training, they can recognize the error of their ways and change their habits for the better. First, talk to your managers and identify the training needs they have for their direct reports. If workers are given proper instructions, managers can rest easy knowing the work at hand is getting done the way it needs to, so see what knowledge gaps your employees have and invest in filling them.
At the same time, emphasize the importance of proper communication and make sure your offending micromanagers know that it goes both ways. Encourage managers to provide clear directions when giving out tasks so workers are less likely to make mistakes and bosses feel less compelled to constantly check in. At the same time, encourage your managers to set up a communication schedule with their direct reports so that workers know when they're supposed to check in. Fostering regular communication could inspire your most obtrusive micromanagers to back off.
Finally, make it clear that managers should only choose trusted, established workers for high-profile tasks. The higher their comfort level, the less inclined they'll be to step in.
Keep in mind that not all micromanagers scrutinize employees because it's their nature to do so. An estimated 42% of bosses develop their managerial style by mimicking a supervisor. Therefore, if you have micromanagers on your team, chances are, that behavior started at the top -- possibly, with you. As such, you may need to assess your own tendencies, solicit honest feedback from your direct reports, and follow the above advice to avoid falling into the micromanagement trap. Otherwise, you'll have no one but yourself to blame when your business starts hurting.