Micromanagement Is a Morale Killer

As Monty Python would say, “And now for something completely different!” This week Cesar will be talking about micromanagement and its consequences for morale and productivity.


The Micromanaging Supervisor

In a previous life I had a supervisor, “Donna”, who needed to know what I was doing at all times. She had access to my calendar and if she saw any gaps in my day, she would fill them for me. It was not that I did not have anything to do, I just did not need to put on my calendar that I was filing paperwork or the exact time I would be taking lunch. We held a variety of meetings as a team, depending on the kind of appointments or clients we were meeting and sometimes two people were needed to get things done. Other times, it was all hands on deck, which made sense to put on a calendar so everyone knew not to double book anyone.

If you trust people and treat them as adults, they will repay you by working effectively and efficiently.


Richard Branson

But “Donna” also liked to call you to see what you were doing when she was not in and was completely against flex schedules. It seemed like the reason she was against it is that she would not be able to monitor her staff for the first and last hour of the day.

However, she loved the flex her own schedule because it allowed her to take off any day that she wanted, work from home, or have 4 day weekends. However, everyone else was hourly so flex days were on Friday and it could only be on Fridays. Others in the organization could choose any day in the week to flex; it just meant work four 10-hour shifts one week and a regular five-day work week. If you wanted to switch Fridays with someone in the same role, grandma had better be dying.

In hopes of keeping up staff morale, our nonprofit had a “policy” where the Director could let us leave between 3-4 pm on Friday while still getting paid until 5pm. However, “Donna” would not always let us participate. We would frequently stay until 5 and watch all of our coworkers leave the office.

The one policy that was especially tough on me, and where we butted heads the most, was the overly strict dress code standards (again compared to company standards) that she held all us to, but mostly me as a male, literally shirt and slacks every day. Company guidelines said Khakis and a polo were fine.

Once every other week I would wear a polo and Khakis and we would all often fill our calendars with mindless activities because we knew if we didn’t, “Donna” would. When she was not around there was a lot more chatting going on, mostly because we felt free from the heavy weight of micromanagement.

Micromanagement is a complete waste of everyone’s time. It sucks the life out of employees, fosters anxiety and creates a high stress work environment. Select the right people and give them room to get on with the job.


Brigette Hyacinth

No More Micromanagement

I’m in a very different situation now and my productivity is through the roof. Because I want to be an important part of my organization, I am always asking for ways to fill my time and staying very busy. I feel respected and encouraged to grow, while being allowed to fail, make mistakes and learn from them.

So to business owners, managers, and supervisors I suggest spending more time in the hiring process and less time on micromanaging those who you hire. Be clear about the expectations; treat your staff like adults and they will feel fully capable of managing the expectations set before them. Challenge your staff if they are not being challenged and always have a project for them that will teach them more about the business you are in. Invested employees are better employees and better employees help a company grow.

Be clear about the expectations; treat your staff like adults and they will feel fully capable of managing the expectations set before them. Challenge your staff if they are not being challenged and always have a project for them that will teach them more about the business you are in. Invested employees are better employees and better employees help a company grow.


Author Cesar Romero is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling.

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