Micromanagers are known for peering over employees’ shoulders, stifling their independence and meddling in the minutiae of their everyday work. And in a recent Accountemps survey, a majority of workers polled said they have firsthand experience with an overbearing boss. Fifty-nine percent of employees interviewed reported working for a micromanager at some point in their careers. The survey also found the constant scrutiny has a negative impact on most workers. Of those who felt they’d been micromanaged, 68 percent said it decreased their morale and 55 percent said it hurt their productivity.
The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 450 employees 18 years of age and older who work in an office environment in the United States.
“Bosses micromanage for many different reasons, but no matter how good their intentions, taking a heavy-handed approach typically hurts employee output, job satisfaction and, as a result, retention efforts,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Motivating Employees For Dummies® (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). “Personally making sure every ‘t’ is crossed might help avoid some mistakes, but the costs associated with failing to trust your team can have a longer-term impact.”
Accountemps offers this six-step plan to help micromanagers learn to loosen the reins:
1. Recognize that you may be the problem. Does the word delegate make you wince? Do you feel you have to do it all and keep a controlling hand on everything at all times? You might be a micromanager.
2. Let it go. Start practicing restraint by dropping the red pen. You don’t need to put your personal stamp on every single item that passes your desk. Making changes to an employee’s work simply for the sake of making changes is a habit worth breaking.
3. Keep the check-ins in check. Constantly inquiring about routine assignments rarely helps employees get them done any faster or more efficiently. Provide clear directions upfront, check in once if need be and then trust your team members to do their jobs.
4. Stop sweating the small stuff. When you allow yourself to get bogged down by the little things, you’re taking away time and energy from bigger-picture organizational objectives that could have a far greater impact on the bottom line.
5. Get to the point (person). Identify a few tasks you currently handle that can be easily delegated to someone. Think about the time and skills needed for the job and then assign accordingly.
6. Empower your employees. When they’re managing projects, give team members the freedom to make decisions — and, yes, mistakes. You might encounter some initial hiccups, but in the long run, offering autonomy will help your employees build their problem-solving and leadership skills.