Micromanagement can occur at home, work, or even school, and is always toxic and unpleasant for those being micromanaged. Unfortunately, micromanagement at work can often be a lot worse.
Not only can it mess with your pay, but it can make clients unhappy, or work a lot harder than it needs to be. These 7 examples of micromanagement are common problems that bad bosses display, and may be red flags that you are not in a job that will make you happy, or even allow your career to advance in the future.
What Is Micromanagement?
It can often be hard to tell if you are being micromanaged by a boss or coworker. You may notice that something isn’t right and that your boss seems to not have any trust in you, but it can be hard sometimes to figure out why that is.
As the name suggests, micromanaging is managing on a small level. Instead of just managing you on the standard scale, they are managing every part of your work. Some bosses do it because they feel it is more effective, some do it because they don’t trust their team, and some just have problems giving up control.
No matter the reason, micromanagement is considered toxic. This is because, even if it seems to help in the short term, it usually has negative effects on the employees being micromanaged. They may begin to feel like their boss is being condescending or that they aren’t trusted to do their work properly.
Over time, this can lead to a worker losing faith in their abilities, and will actually be less productive. At some point, they won’t be able to do any work without doubting themselves or having someone check over their work.
That is if they even get that far. Many people who are confident in their abilities but find themselves constantly getting micromanaged will often just quit or look for similar employment from a competitor.
Whether you are the boss or the employee, it is important to notice when micromanagement is happening so it can be corrected.
By reducing micromanagement in the workplace, you can have a team that functions and even thrives on its own, and workers will feel more confident in their work and that they have the freedom to do what is needed to be done to be the most effective.
7 Examples of Micromanagement
1. Having to Be Involved in Every Conversation
One of the most obvious, and most annoying aspects of a micromanager is that they often can’t let their employees do anything on their own. That even includes conversations with clients. If you have a job where you often talk to clients, you will often have your boss that constantly asks to be CC’d on emails, and to be present for phone conversations.
Even if you are in a customer service job, your boss will often come in and get involved in conversations. This can be annoying for many reasons. Not only does it make you feel undervalued and like you can’t be trusted, but it can often slow down work.
For example, if your boss has to be nearby when you talk to a client on the phone, then you have to schedule it at a time that works for all three of you. This can severely slow down communications and rush deadlines, especially if your boss is micromanaging everyone.
Also, if your boss is someone that ends up getting involved with everything, then your client may end up getting information from your boss that is incorrect or be given a deadline that isn’t feasible.
For example, perhaps your client asked you a question about if something could be changed. If your boss responds by saying yes when that actually isn’t the case, then you will have to explain to an irritated client why that isn’t the case, and likely you will have to explain to your boss as well.
2. Being in Charge of When Your Team Leaves
This is sort of a niche example, but if you have a job where you don’t have clear hours or hours change based on how busy it is that day, then you may have a boss that micromanages when your team can leave.
If they are the manager at the time, this can be perfectly fine. After all, their job is to determine how many people are needed and to save money on particularly slow days. However, if you work for a small company, you may have a boss that feels they are in charge of when you can leave, even when they aren’t working or present on-site at all.
This may mean you stay a lot longer than normal, as you have to wait for a boss to message you back, or you may be told to leave even though it is busy because your boss has no idea of what is actually going on.
It can be frustrating, and often makes an employee feel like they aren’t respected or trusted enough to make the decision themselves. If there is another manager on duty, this may even undermine that manager and lead to tension.
Oftentimes, this is also the same manager or boss that watches the clock to see if anyone is even a minute late to work or back from their break.
3. Constantly Needing Updates
A good leader should always have a sense of what their team is doing at any given time. However, if your boss is simply walking around all day demanding updates and wanting to know exactly what everyone is working on, there is a good chance that they are micromanaging.
Most of the time, these are also bosses that don’t understand a lot of the work that their team does. So when someone is working on the small, but important parts of a project, they may get irritated and feel like their team is slacking, or not putting effort into the necessary.
They may also try and give their opinion, even though they have no idea about any of the work they are talking about. They will usually be angry, no matter how good of progress the team is making, or how happy the client is. They might be even more irritated if the client liked the work after the micromanager said that it was bad.
Even if something is done correctly, they won’t praise the team, and will only bring up the negatives that happened. This creates a cycle, as the team gets defeated, is less proud of their work, puts in less effort, and has more for the micromanager to complain about.
4. Not Allowing Their Team to Have Initiative
A good leader wants their team to learn and grow. They know that their team can often come up with better solutions and options that the leader themselves wouldn’t be able to think about if they are given the freedom to do so.
However, a micromanager doesn’t give their team any freedom. Even if their team can prove their effectiveness and skill, a micromanager will often only limit the team to doing exactly what they say, and the way they say to do it.
They don’t care if there is an option that would save the business money or time, so long as things are done as they said.
5. Doesn’t Listen to Advice
Micromanagers often believe they are right, and that they are the only ones who know anything. This is an annoying personality trait in and of itself. No one wants to deal with someone who always thinks they are right and doesn’t acknowledge new information or a difference of opinion.
When that person is your boss, it is even worse. A micromanaging boss will have a tendency to make decisions all on their own, without input from the team, or from anyone who may have more experience.
This can create issues with getting work done, as they may promise more than is possible, offer accelerated deadlines that would severely overwork the team, or make up something that isn’t true.
If anyone questions them, they may get angry, or even threaten to fire someone, so it can be hard to fix the mistake.
This lack of listening to advice or their workers, in general, can also be seen in a schedule. Some workers can only be on certain shifts due to another job or personal reasons. A good manager should always take this into account when creating the schedule, even if it isn’t a static schedule and it changes a lot.
However, some bosses will often not bother to remember what their workers said about scheduling, or just don’t care. Sometimes, they also feel they have to know every intimate detail about why someone needs that time off.
6. Enjoys Telling People They Messed Up
If you have a boss that always critically checks work, and only has negative things to say, they may be a micromanager. Many micromanaging bosses are eager to point out mistakes that workers under them made.
This is often done as a power move, or to prove that their team is incompetent and can’t do anything without them. It is a way to establish that they are still needed and important and to show their bosses that they are a vital part of the company.
No matter how minor the mistake, or the project, a micromanaging boss will push to have the whole project redone. Not only does this make for extra and unnecessary work, but it also leads to deadlines not being met.
If the micromanaging boss cannot find something wrong with a project, they will spend a lot of unnecessary time trying to find something, or make things up such as changing colors, sizes, or formatting.
7. Keeps Employees in the Dark
Another characteristic of micromanagers is keeping people in the dark. Micromanagers will often give the bare minimum of information. That way, they can tell the employee that they did something wrong, or they will make the employee come back and ask a lot of questions.
They then use this to prove that the worker is incompetent and can’t do it without them. After all, competent workers would be able to do it on their own without supervision.
If the employee does try and do it on their own, they will often get in trouble for not following guidelines that weren’t provided, or get yelled at for taking initiative when they needed to ask permission.
In situations like these, employees will feel like they have no way to win, and they are often right. They will get in trouble for asking for more clarification, or for trying to take initiative. This creates a hopeless situation and the worker will start to feel helpless and there is no point in trying at their job.