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Micromanaging can be toxic in the workplace.
Many bosses don’t even realize they are actively practicing micromanagement.
Managers often fall into this role due their expertise at the tasks their subordinates are performing. After all, their ability to excel at such tasks is likely what got them promoted in the first place. Occasionally, a manager feels more comfortable with these tasks than he does with the more complicated ones he now has assigned to him, so he will fall back into the habit of doing them. This is where micromanagement begins to reveal itself.
One popular business voice, author Ron Ashkenas, discussed this phenomenon in the Harvard Business Review, where he stated: “At higher levels managers usually need to dial down their operational focus and learn how to be more strategic. To do so, managers have to trust their people to manage day-to-day operations and coach them as needed, rather than trying to do it for them.”
As a business owner, manager, or employee, you should never take the practice of micromanagement lightly. While it may seem harmless, it is actually much more than a minor quirk in the functioning of the workplace. Micromanagement causes employees to perform poorly, and managers to avoid more important work.
Thankfully, you can avoid falling into this trap by listening to the advice of two important authoritative voices on the subject: Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer. Through detailed research, they helped determine how to avoid micromanagement and they discuss this in their book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work.
Speaking on the negative effects of micromanagement, the authors state: “When people lack the autonomy, information, and expert help they need to make progress, their thoughts, feelings, and drives take a downward turn — resulting in pedestrian ideas and lackluster output. Managers panic when they see performance lagging, which leads them to hover over subordinates’ shoulders even more intrusively and criticize them even more harshly — which engenders even worse inner work life.”
So it can be a vicious cycle.
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Here is a direct link to the complete article.
To learn more about Teresa Amabile and her work, please click here.
To learn more about Steven Kramner and his work, please click here.