Why Micromanagement Is A Red Flag

“Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people.” – Stephen R. Covey

The colloquial term ‘control freak’ is by today’s standards a repugnant framing of those who suffer from a set of real and debilitating mental health issues. The point is, a need to be in charge of everything and everyone doesn’t necessarily make you ‘just a jerk’: it can arise from legitimate psychological issues like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, or personality disorders.

What’s this got to do with micromanagement? In the context of your business, if you or any of your management team are known for persistent interference and lack of empathy you might want to have that seen to: The health and wellbeing of your people, as well as the success of your enterprise, depends on it.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of somewhat urgent reasons to take this seriously: 

Loss of trust
Micromanaged teams do not feel trusted. This will be reciprocated. When a team doesn’t trust its management, this may also bleed out as doubts and suspicions that will destabilize the synergy of the whole team. 

Loss of self-belief
Some team members will accede to total control. They will forget that they were once capable of doing things without being told. This will result in people incapable of taking the initiative and paralyzed by fear. 

Loss of creativity
Constant insistence on fixed parameters will stifle innovation. Imagination does not thrive in a hostile environment. Problem-solving skills wither and die.

Loss of productivity
Unhappy employees don’t work as hard. They don’t work as diligently either. More mistakes will be made and less care will be shown. 

Loss of health
Unhappy employees are unhealthy employees. Consider the fact that the manager doing the micromanaging should be the first one seeking professional help, for everyone’s sake.   

Loss of talent
People subjected to an invasive, dominant presence in authority over them will take their skills elsewhere. The word will get out and suitable replacement applicants will dwindle. 

Loss of business
You see where this is going.

In conclusion: Persistent and habitual micromanagement should set alarm bells ringing. It may be that the perpetrator is projecting their own shortcomings and simply requires training. Insecurity can be mistaken for narcissism, after all. At the risk of laboring the point, though, there may well be a genuine and urgent call for medical intervention – for everyone’s sake.  

"Leadership requires five ingredients – brains, energy, determination, trust, and ethics. The key challenges today are in terms of the last two – trust and ethics." – Fred Hilmer