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Hybrid work

The psychological effects of micromanagement and their impact on the company


November 22, 2022


June 16, 2023

As the manager of a hybrid workforce, how do you deal with not seeing your employees or supervising their tasks in person? Do you trust their abilities or do you monitor every process in detail? How do you think the psychological effect of micromanagement can impact the success of your team? Leading a team virtually is a new concept that requires some adjustments to ensure success. Allowing more flexibility at work fosters employee morale and satisfaction, which is key to meeting the criteria of a modern workplace and creating a thriving team. Unfortunately, while hybrid work is supposed to provide more autonomy to coworkers, micromanaging practices tend to increase. To help you understand the risks of this harmful leadership style, we are going to explore the negative effects of micromanaging and learn more about it.

What are the psychological effects of micromanagement?

Loss of creativity

Often, micromanagers need control because they are perfectionists, highly organized, and success-driven. Unfortunately, these qualities can turn into weaknesses if not well balanced. From an employee’s point of view, being constantly restrained destroys innovation and resourcefulness. When every single action they take is monitored, there is no longer space for autonomy and creativity. Little by little, they stop taking initiative, give up on suggesting fresh ideas and simply do the tasks that are being asked to do. 

Lack of confidence

On top of losing their creativity, employees might also lose confidence in themselves and their abilities. Just imagine your supervisors want to know every task you are taking on and how you are completing it, would you feel trusted? Micromanagers show excessive control over each step of a process. This usually results in individuals feeling like they are not trustworthy and in turn, questioning their own skills. Although they’ve been hired for their expertise, this type of leadership makes them doubt it. If they are considered reliable, competent, and qualified for their job, they then wonder why every detail of their work regularly needs to be approved.

Frustration and disappointment

Micromanagers might not realize the consequences of their behavior and think this is the best way to help their coworkers. Unfortunately, this kind of management creates the opposite effect. Employees want to be trusted for their expertise, develop their skills, and be recognized for their strengths. But in a micromanaged environment, these expectations are not met. Instead of seeing team members thriving, they become frustrated and disappointed. They wish for more autonomy, to be able to take initiative and to make mistakes in order to learn and grow.

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Failure in personal and professional growth 

From a micromanager’s perspective, the results of their work can only be positive, and negative outcomes (failure, poor performance, customer complaints) are not an option. Therefore, they interfere in all processes and monitor every action of their team members closely to make sure perfect results are achieved. While failure is not something managers should hope for, it makes individuals and companies grow. By not letting their workers experience failure, and not taking accountability for it, they prevent them from growing personally and professionally. 

A feeling of being used and not valued

Sadly, by focusing so much on outcomes, micromanagers might be less considerate of their team. By being invested in small tasks, they might think they are showing availability and support to their coworkers. But employees who experience such an intrusive approach don’t feel supported. It is quite the opposite. They don’t feel valued and as if their supervisor does not believe they are trustworthy or competent enough for more autonomy. Micromanaged employees can feel they are only seen as a means to reach goals without being recognized for their skills.

Loss of workplace connection

Last but not least, we often talk about the importance of workplace connection. Feeling connected to the workplace means building a strong bond with your job, the company, and your colleagues. But employees lose this feeling when frustrated about the organizational structure and processes, or are disappointed in leaders. This is especially true if they begin to lose confidence in themselves and feel stuck in their careers without the opportunity to develop their skills. As we are about to see, this negatively affects the workforce and the business as a whole.

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Man with head in his hands at desk
Man feeling frustrated at work.

How do the negative effects of micromanaging impact an organization?

Failure to see the bigger picture

A study called Micromanagement: an Employer Perspective shows that micromanagers tend to miss the bigger picture. Therefore, a micro vision can have serious consequences on the performance of the team and the company. Although dealing with challenges on a micro level during a period of crisis can be really useful and efficient, in the long run, it is a risky way of leading a team. A fundamental skill for any manager is to know how to analyze a situation and find solutions to reach goals instead of focusing on small daily tasks. By micromanaging, leaders might fail to meet this crucial part of their role. 

Decrease in engagement and productivity

Both leaders and employees in a micromanaged environment are less engaged and less productive for many reasons. One of them is loss of purpose. By being restrained, workers struggle to find purpose in their job. As far as leaders are concerned, controlling and focusing on every detail keeps them from having time to work on meaningful tasks. In the end, everybody starts to be less engaged and motivated which affects the overall level of productivity.

Creation of a toxic work environment

The psychological effects of micromanagement contribute to the development of a toxic work environment. As you can imagine, micromanagement causes a lot of stress for everyone involved. Common signs of a toxic workplace include a lack of initiative, being scared of taking action, a poor level of trust and recognition. Do these aspects sound familiar? Not only does micromanagement have similar harmful effects on people as a toxic work environment, but it is also one of its main causes.

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A rise in manager and employee burnout

Micromanaging practices generate a lot of stress for both leaders and workers. Therefore, training managers and encouraging positive management approaches are crucial to improve everyone’s mental health. Experiencing chronic stress can have harmful consequences on the whole team as it affects employee satisfaction, well-being, performance, and productivity. By putting too much pressure on themselves and on their team, micromanagers are at a higher risk for work depression. If not minimized, this stress can result in both manager and employee burnout

Increase in employee turnover

Management Consulted reported that 70% of workers think about quitting because of micromanagement and 30% actually do. The negative effects of micromanaging will hurt the business in the long run. It impacts mental health, job satisfaction, employee happiness and productivity, and workplace connection. All of these aspects are crucial to making workers stay by your side and avoid retention issues. Only using micromanagement approaches for a short period of time and in a specific situation is key to avoiding an increase in employee turnover. 

Woman working at desk with man pointing at her
Unhappy employee being micromanaged.

Even though micromanagement has negative effects on employee morale in the long run, it is sometimes beneficial for a short-term period, like training an inexperienced team, leading a new team member, or handling a challenging project. However, this type of leadership can deeply affect the level of productivity, satisfaction, and loyalty of your workforce. If there is one aspect that we recommend you remember to make your team flourish, it is to be people-oriented more than outcome-focused. Trust them, let their creativity flow, listen to their needs, support them, and the rest should follow.

Do you want to know what fosters a positive work atmosphere and a satisfied workforce? Read our articles about employee satisfaction to learn more and create a successful employee-centric way of working!

The psychological effects of micromanagement and their impact on the company

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

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